New Delhi: India's choice of the medium range multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) supplier is likely to be made public in the next five to six weeks. The tender has attracted global attention and is worth an estimated $11 billion.
The worth of the tender could shoot up should the Indian Air Force opt to increase the size of the order. The order run is for 126 aircraft with an option to increase the size by an additional 63 aircraft.
''We have completed the benchmarking and submitted the report to the ministry of defence which has to accept it. A technical offset evaluation committee report has also been submitted to the MoD. The lowest bidder will be declared in another five to six weeks,''
''The next step is to call vendors and open up the commercial bids. Of the two manufacturers left in the fray for the medium-multirole combat aircraft, we will [determine the lowest bidder] in the next five to six weeks,'' Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, air chief marshal PV Naik said 26 July.
Under India's defence procurement procedures the lowest bidder wins the deal.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is competing with the French Dassault Rafale for the contract.
The IAF has already ''completed the benchmarking'' of the two aircraft, which were down-selected in April of this year from among six contenders, including American, Russian and Swede.
''I have been very upbeat about it. I hope it comes through,'' says ACM Naik, who is due to retire at the end of this month.
In the initial order of 126 aircraft, the first 18 will be bought in flyaway condition, and the remaining 108 will be manufactured by Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. under a technology transfer agreement.
The winning firm has to deliver the first fighter within 36 months of signing the commercial agreement.
Sixty per cent of the aircraft's technology will be transferred to HAL in four phases. India has also insisted in 50 per cent industrial offset for the contract.
The MMRCA along with Su-30 MKI, MiG-29, Mirage-2000, Tejas light combat aircraft and Jaguar will be the IAF mainstay till the introduction of Indo-Russian fifth generation fighters.
Naik said a Rs10,900 crore contract to upgrade 51 Mirage-2000 would be signed shortly.