Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bangalore: From joyrides to celebrities to high-voltage marketing campaigns, global aviation giants have pressed the full throttle in the bruising battle to grab India's gigantic Rs 42,000-crore project for acquiring 126 multi-role combat aircraft for IAF.
With IAF planning to begin field trials for the six fighter jets in contention for this "mother of all defence deals'' in April-May after evaluation of their technical bids, it's all about grabbing eyeballs of the decision-makers as well as the public at large at the `Aero India-2009' show here.
The six contenders -- the American F/A-18 `Super Hornet' (Boeing) and F-16IN `Super Viper' (Lockheed Martin), French Rafale (Dassualt), Eurofighter Typhoon, Swedish Gripen (Saab) and Russian MiG-35 (RAC MiG) -- are leaving nothing to chance.
Though the Rafale and Gripen jets have not been able to make it for the airshow, the other four fighters are tearing into the skies here to display their lethality and super-maneuverability to all and sundry, interspersed with joyrides to celebs and IAF top-gun pilots as an effective marketing tool.
The Americans, of course, are in the forefront to hardsell their flying machines. If it was Ratan Tata last time around, the aviation majors are trying to rope in Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bhindra, cricketer Yuvraj Singh, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra and industrialist Sunil Bharti Mittal, among others, to fly on the rear seat of the fighters this time.
The IAF, on its part, is watching the `gimmickry' with quiet amusement from the sidelines.
Defence production secretary Pradeep Kumar, on his part, said, "As far as we are concerned, the defence ministry does not invite celebrities. The companies do it on their own.''
IAF, of course, is in a hurry to seal the mammoth contract because of its fast-depleting fighter squadron (each has 14 to 18 jets) strength, down to just 32 from the "sanctioned'' number of 39.5. But it knows the contract for the 126 fighters will be more of a marathon than a 100-metre sprint.
It is estimated that the first lot of the new fighters -- 18 jets will be bought off the shelf, while the rest will be manufactured in India under transfer of technology -- will arrive only by 2012 at the earliest.
11/02/09 Rajat Pandit/Times of India


To read the news in full | PermaLink

© 2006 Aero India 2009 News | Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly.

blogspot stats