The multi-billion dollar tender for the 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), for which Rafale was shortlisted in 2012, has been withdrawn by the government.
"The Request for Proposal (RFP) issued earlier for the procurement of 126 MMRCA has been withdrawn. In the multi-vendor procurement case, the Rafale aircraft met all the performance characteristics stipulated in the RFP during the evaluation conducted by the Indian Air Force," defence minister Manohar Parrikar said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.
The move comes just months after the defence minister indicated that the over $20 billion MMRCA tender has virtually been scrapped after the government decided to purchase 36 Rafales under a government-to-government contract.
The talks for the 36 Rafales have already commenced, the minister said.
Defence sources said that a letter was sent out to the six vendors shortlisted for the RFP, which was for the then biggest aviation contract up for grabs globally, informing that the tender stands withdrawn.
The RFP for the procurement of 126 MMRCA, at a then estimated cost of Rs 42,000 crores, was issued in 2007 to six vendors -- Russia's MIG-35 (RAC MiG), Swedish JAS-39 (Gripen), Dassault Rafale (France), American F-16 Falcon (Lockheed Martin), Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon (made by a consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian firms).
Under the terms of purchase, the first 18 MMRCA aircrafts were supposed to come in a 'fly away' condition while the remaining 108 manufactured under Transfer of Technology.
While initially the tender was valued at about $10 billion for 126 aircraft, the current price is estimated to be over $20 billion.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in April announced purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts in fly-away condition from the French government directly, sidestepping the gruelling three-year negotiations for the MMRCA tender.