MRCA field trials to end by july 2010
Field trials by six aircraft makers -- including Boeing Co. and Dassault Aviation SA -- for an estimated $10 billion Indian Air Force contract will likely be completed by July, an Indian minister said Wednesday.
"They (the trials) are expected to get over some time in June or July next year because testing has to be done across both the winter and summer seasons," M.M. Pallam Raju, junior defense minister, said on the sidelines of an industry conference.
Boeing is offering the F/A-18 fighter jet for the 126 multi-role combat aircraft deal, while Dassault has put up the Rafale.Vivek Lall, vice president and India head for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, said in October that the F/A-18 recently completed the second phase of trials in India's Leh, Jaisalmer and Bangalore areas.
The third phase will start in the U.S. in February.
Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-16 Falcon, Russian Aircraft Corp.'s MiG-35, Saab AB's JAS-39 Gripen, as well as the Eurofighter Typhoon -- produced by a consortium of European companies--are also competing for the contract.
India plans to buy the 126 jets, as well as advanced helicopters and other defense equipment, to modernize its mainly Soviet-vintage defense forces. The Indian Air Force has 1,700 aircraft, including helicopters and transport planes, according to its Web site.
India, which is among the world's top arms importers, has earmarked 1.42 trillion rupees ($30.7 billion) as capital expenditure on defense for the current fiscal year through March 2010, up from 1.06 trillion rupees in the previous year.
Mr. Raju said 30%-40% of this year's defense budget has been spent so far.
Under current rules, foreign companies which receive import orders in excess of 3 billion rupees must draw at least 30% of that order from domestic suppliers or make a similar sized investment within India, in what is known as an offset."The offset obligation for this (126-fighter jet) order is 50%," said Mr. Raju.
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ASIAN DEFENCE: India: Fighter Jet Deal Trials Likely to End July