MMRCA well on track, says IAF Chief

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Dis­cred­it­ing ru­mours of a com­pe­ti­tion abort or re-ten­der—or even that ne­go­ti­a­tions could be tak­ing place with other com­pa­nies—IAF Chief Air Chief Mar­shal N.A.K. Browne has stressed that the medium mul­ti­role com­bat air­craft (MMRCA) con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions with Das­sault Avi­a­tion for the Rafale are “well on track” and pro­gress­ing sat­is­fac­to­rily, with ex­pec­ta­tions of a con­tract award this fi­nan­cial year.

The IAF Chief in­di­cated that com­plex cost­ing was un­der dis­cus­sion at this stage, and once the con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tion com­mit­tee (CNC) com­pleted its work, there would be ap­provals at var­i­ous lev­els, end­ing with the Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity (CCS) be­fore a deal, worth po­ten­tially over $12 bil­lion, has been signed.

“We have al­ready re­ceived the bud­get for this ac­qui­si­tion. I have not heard any ru­mours. The ne­go­ti­a­tions are pro­gress­ing well and are on track,” the IAF Chief said at his an­nual press con­fer­ence. Ear­lier this year, De­fence Min­is­ter A.K. Antony too dis­pelled wor­ries about the com­pe­ti­tion when an in­quiry he or­dered into a com­plaint by a fel­low Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment into the ef­fi­cacy of the se­lec­tion process, was found to be un­founded. Das­sault Avi­a­tion hasn’t of­fi­cially com­mented on the IAF Chief’s words, though the com­pany sources con­firmed that ne­go­ti­a­tions were go­ing well, and that they too hoped to draw up a draft con­tract soon.

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