India prefers European fighter jets to American

| Updated on: Apr 28, 2011
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Boeing and Lockheed Martin, both US-based manufacturers, have not made the final shortlist for India's $11-billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal. One of the largest defence deals in the country seeks to purchase 126 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.

US disappointed

“We are deeply disappointed by this news. We look forward to continuing to grow and develop our defence partnership with India,” said a statement quoting the US Ambassador to India, Mr Timothy Roemer, who resigned early on Thursday.

But Mr Roemer added that he had been assured by the highest levels in New Delhi that the procurement process for the fighters “has been and will be transparent and fair”.

Roemer quits; no link to deal

The timing of Mr Roemer's resignation gave rise to speculation about US companies not making it to the shortlist, but a statement issued by the US Embassy as well as a spokesperson attributed the resignation to personal, professional and family considerations and no correlation to the MMRCA deal. Boeing also expressed disappointment that its F-18/A Super Hornet fighter jet did not make the initial selection list. “Our next step is to request and receive a debrief from the Indian Air Force. Once we have reviewed the details, we will make a decision concerning our possible options,” the company added in a statement.

Europeans shortlisted

The Defence Ministry is reported to have shortlisted European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co and Dassault Aviation for the deal. But a Dassault spokesperson did not comment on the development. Other companies that have lost out include Sweden's Saab AB and Russia's United Aircraft Corp. Saab AB confirmed that its Gripen fighter jet is no longer in the running for the MMRCA deal while Russia's United Aircraft Corp was unavailable to comment.

Published on April 28, 2011

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