The Defense Minister AK Antony disappointed the contenders for the 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft contract during Aero India 2009, by declining to fly in any of the planes brought by four of the contenders.
The representatives of the companies had hoped to have an interaction with the minister and try and get some hint as to where things where headed with the tender. But Antony even refused to visit the chalets of the companies in the race for the deal, leaving them quite taken aback. The Russians were especially disappointed because of their old relationship with the Indian armed forces.
Defense Ministry insiders told StratPost this behavior is quite simply in conformity with the minister’s reputation for personal integrity. Such is his emphasis on maintaining a clean and corruption-free process of defense acquisition that even senior Indian Air Force (IAF) officers were not allowed to fly in any of the planes displayed at Aero India 2009, leaving celebrities, sportsmen, industrialists, former IAF officers and junior IAF officers to have a go on the fighters.