BANGALORE: Day two of Aero India 2009 held here saw the contenders for India’s multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) contract pitching hard to sell their aircraft.
Representatives from the European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) comprising Bernhard Genwert, CEO, EADS, Chiefs of Air Forces from UK, Spain, Italy and Germany, and various ambassadors joined the fray to bid for the multi-billion dollar contract from India.
“The European company, which is competing with five other companies including the United States and Russia which are military allies of India, stands a fighting chance as it has a proven track record,” said Genwert at a press conference.
Joining the pitch, Aloysius Rauen, president and CEO of EADS Military Aircraft said, “The company is a heavyweight in terms of economics as well as reliability.” About 156 Eurofighter Typhoons are in service in five nations including the air forces of Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom. The German Air Force Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Klaus Peter Stieglitz, speaking at the conference, said that in the coming years, the Eurofighters will be the backbone of the Luftwaffe.
The Swedish aerospace company SAAB is also in the race with its next generation fighter aircraft Gripen IN. SAAB executives at a press conference here said that it is waiting for the call from India for flying evaluation. It already has aircraft operational in Hungary and the Czech Republic and is looking at bagging deals in various countries including Switzerland, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Slovenia.
Experts opine that while Russia’s long standing military alliance with India may give an edge to the Russian MiG 35s, improved relations between the US and India may also help American companies.
Six aircraft are competing for the order - the Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Mikoyan MiG 35 and the American F-16 IN and F/A 18 IN . So far, Mikoyan and Dassault have been regular suppliers of aircraft for the Indian Air Force and in terms of transfers of technology, licensed production in India, personnel training, supply of spare parts, maintenance and upgrading.
Russians hope to clinch MRCA deal
“We will deliver top notch technology on schedule and are prepared to transfer technology to India,’’ said Mikhail Pogosyan, CEO, MiG and Sukhoi, at a press conference on Thursday.
“We have a fair chance of winning the contract for the 126 multi-role combat aircraft from India as our aircraft will meet all requirements of the Indian Air Force,’’ he said.
He also said if one looked back, the success of Russianmade Sukhoi 30 and other alliances India has had with Russia are an added advantage to them. Russia is one of the six countries bidding for the 126 multi-role combat aircraft that the Indian Air Force is planning to procure.