Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chennai/ Bangalore: The visitors to this year Aero India will be deprived of having the opportunity to see the maneuvering of fighter aircraft Gripen, one of the six contenders for the Indian Air Force’s Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme, as the company believes there is too much cost involved in bringing the aircraft to India. People in the industry feel that this can well be a cost cutting exercise by the Swedish company, despite the fact that companies participating in the biennial aeroshow event are seeing a wave of opportunities both in the Indian defence and civilian market.
“We could have, but we decided not to bring the aircraft this year. Because, it is a costly exercise to bring the aircraft here, and besides it requires to do flight test in this country,” said Kjell Moller, executive vice president, Saab International. “Cost cutting is there, but there is no value to bring aircraft to aero-shows around the world in such a time,” he added.
Gripen, the fifth generation muti-role fighter aircraft had participated in Aero India 2007. This year, Saab will only show-case the module of the aircraft and some simulators. “Last time (Aero India 2007), we had two aircraft was flying here,” added Moller.
Indian Air Force had earlier issued request for proposals (RFPs) to procure 126 fighter aircraft under the MMRCA programme.
Other than Saab’s Gripen, the five other contenders for the IAF order are Boeing’s F/A-18E/F, Lockheed Martin F-16, EADS Eurofighter, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale and the Russian Aircraft Corporation’s (RAC) MiG-35.
The ministry of defence is expected to float a proposal for the technical bid in the next couple of months, after which the deal is expected to be finalised.
The value of the MMRCA project is expected to be in the range of $8-10 billion. Saab has given a proposal to manufacture the aircraft in India, with its local partner HAL, depending upon the requirements of the Indian defence ministry.
10/02/09 Bibhu Ranjan Mishra/Business Standard

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