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The twists and turns of India's biggest defence deal
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 1/31/2012 12:00:00 AM
The twists and turns of India's biggest defence deal

New Delhi : This is how India''s biggest defence deal -- a $10.4-billion tender for 126 combat aircraft -- panned out:

* 2000: Indian Air Force (IAF) conveys to defence ministry its interest in acquiring medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) to replace its ageing fleet of Soviet-era MiG-21s and because of delays in developing the indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA).

* 2001: IAF issues request for information (RFI) for 126 combat jets.

* 2003: IAF seeks defence ministry''s permission to buy 50 more French Mirage-2000s to shore up the only MMRCAs in its fleet as a stop-gap arrangement. The aircraft had been acquired in the mid-1980s.

* 2004: Defence ministry asks IAF to instead issue a larger MMRCA tender.

* 2005: Defence ministry issues initial MMRCA tender but withdraws it quickly even as it starts receiving responses from vendors.

* 2006: The then IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, flags the dwindling squadron strength of the force. From a sanctioned strength of 39.5 combat squadrons, the IAF is down to 33 squadrons.

* August 2007: India issues the tender for 126 MMRCAs at an estimated cost of $10.4 billion.

* February 2008: US majors Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Russia''s United Aircraft Corporation, France''s Dassault, European consortium EADS and Sweden''s SAAB submit their bids.

* April 2009: Reports that Dassault and SAAB are out of the race.

* May 2009: Defence ministry says Dassault and SAAB still in contention.

* April 2010: IAF completes its flight and weapons evaluation of the six contenders on the basis of 643 parameters.

* December 2010: Offset proposals of contenders goes missing; later found on the roadside in south Delhi. The incident threatens to derail the tendering process.

* April 2011: India down-selects EADS and Dassault for the final leg of the contest, rejecting the other four contenders.

* November 2011: The commercial offers from European consortium Eurofighter and France''s Dassault Aviation opened.

January 31, 2011: Dassault informed that it has emerged as the lowest bidde

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The twists and turns of India s biggest defence deal

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