NEW DELHI — India hopes to unveil within two weeks the winner of a $12-billion fighter jet deal for which France’s Dassault and the Eurofighter consortium are on a final short list, the air force said Jan. 17.
“Right now we have to do the selection for who is going to be the short-listed vendor,” Indian Air Force chief N.A.K. Browne said in New Delhi. “I am hopeful that in another two weeks time, we will be able to short list the name,” Browne told reporters on the sidelines of a military function, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
The contract is one of the biggest under consideration in the global defense aviation industry at the moment.
The air force chief said final commercial negotiations would only start after India announced the lowest bidder.
Officials say “life-cycle” maintenance costs of each plane will determine the winner of the deal. The contract is for the outright purchase of 18 combat aircraft with another 108 to be built in India with options to acquire more.
India last April cut out U.S. bidders Boeing and Lockheed Martin as well as dropping Sweden’s Saab AB and the Russian makers of the MiG 35 from the race.
Such a large order attracted intense lobbying during visits to India last year by U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
India, the biggest importer of military hardware among emerging nations, issued the request for proposals in 2007 and trials of aircraft from the six companies competing for the deal began a year later.