Berlin: Political ties will play a very big role in determining the outcome of the $11 billion Indian Air Force medium range multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender, according to Enzo Casolini, chief executive officer of Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH. The Eurofighter is one of the contestants for the global tender which has five other defence and aerospace companies in the fray.
The order envisages 18 four++ generation fighters being supplied by the contractor winning the bid and atleast 108 being produced under license in India. The aircraft are intended to phase out the IAF's ageing fleet of MiG series fighters as well as build up aerospace and industrial capability.
Speaking at a media briefing at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2010 on Tuesday, Casolini said, ''The situation is very clear. In order to sell fighter aircraft, apart from the capability [of the aircraft], one of the most important things is the political support and relationship with the [customer] nation...These are strategic issues.''
In this regard, Casolini pointed out, the Eurofighter was pitted against the USA. ''When we talk about competitors, Americans are the biggest, because we believe American political support is strong [in India]. Everybody knows that.''
In the MMRCA bid, two US firms are in the running with Boeing fielding its F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin Corp's its F-16IN.
Other aerospace companies competing are Dassault Aviation SA with its Rafale fighter, the Russian MiG RAC with its MiG-35 offering and the Swedish Saab AB with its Gripen NG.