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What’s delaying the procurement of $9 billion Multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) deal? The Hindu has some details.

On a related topic, old story but worth mentioning, India and Russia have finally decided to go ahead with the joint development of a 5th generation fighter jet (tip Mihir). This comes after India had expressed its reservations regarding the project.

What changed India’s mind, is yet to be declassified (Mihir claims that the Russians were late in dispatching fat briefcases to the Indian defense mandarins :P).

Update (Feb 7,2007):

L&T, an Indian company, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Boeing to explore oppurtunities in the Indian defense sector. This is what the VP of L&T had to say:

“The MoU with Boeing adds a new, international dimension to our engagements in the strategic sectors of defence and aerospace. As a major supplier of critical systems to India’s defense sector for more than four decades, we have worked closely with the defense establishment in developing and putting into production a range of advanced systems. This new agreement will add depth to our capabilities in the aerospace and defense sectors,”

This is interesting. Boeing is in the race for the MRCA deal with its F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, along with Lockheed’s F-16 Block 70 and MiG’s MiG-29 OVT.

AIR F-18F Super Hornet Landing lg

Update 2(Feb 8, 2007):

Just got this from Rediff:

On the acquisition of the 126 multi-role combat aircraft, Tyagi said there would be a global competition and only one foreign vendor would be selected for the entire order.

The selected vendor, which would supply one squadron of these combat jets of the shelf, would have to tie-up with Indian PSUs like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for licensed production of the remaining aircraft.

Tyagi, who was accompanied by air chief-designate Air Marshal Fali Major, said, “Our philosophy is that we will go to one (foreign) vendor for the sake of commonality.”

He, however, made it clear that this vendor would have to tie up with the Indian vendor for licensed production of the MRCA in India.

Boeing’s move has started making sense, but is far from stuff like licensed production of aircraft. Given India’s bullish attitude in the purchase process, it’s clearly evident that India has tangible alternatives if everything fails (as our resident military analyst Mihir has pointed in the comments).