US sulking over lost fighter contract
The US is struggling to come to terms with the rejection of its bids for a $10.2 billion (Rs 45,900 crore) contract to supply 126 fighter planes to the Indian Air Force, the country's biggest order symbolising its growing military appetite.world Updated: Jun 25, 2011 23:08 IST
The US is struggling to come to terms with the rejection of its bids for a $10.2 billion (Rs 45,900 crore) contract to supply 126 fighter planes to the Indian Air Force, the country's biggest order symbolising its growing military appetite.
US defence contractors betrayed their frustration and questioned India's arms procurement policy in hushed tones at the Paris air show in Le Bourget.
A top executive, who did not wish to be named, said questions about the criteria adopted to shortlist European fighters (Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale) had not been answered.
"We are awaiting responses to the clarifications sought by the US government," he said.
But the IAF said it went by the book.
"It was a fact-based decision. Politico-strategic considerations were not factored in. The Typhoon and Rafale best met our requirements," Air Chief Marshal PV Naik said.
He said the US should not be upset over losing the fighter deal, as Washington's platter was piled high with military contracts worth billions of dollars.
"They have a lot in its kitty. The US has won several contracts including those for C-17 military transport aircraft, C-130J airlifters and P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance planes," Naik said.
US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer had announced his resignation in April, a day after Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin's F-16 Super Viper fighters were edged out of the race, along with Russia's MiG-35 and Sweden's Gripen.
The fighter contract could either be awarded to Eurofighter Typhoon (a consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian companies) or French firm Dassault Aviation's Rafale, depending on who the lowest bidder is.
Naik said the decision should not impact Indo-US strategic ties.
India is buying 10 Boeing C-17s for $ 4.1 billion (Rs 18,450 crore) and 12 P-8Is worth $3.1 billion (Rs 13,950 crore) from the US. Lockheed Martin won a $1 billion (Rs 4,500 crore) order in 2008 to supply six C-130Js to the IAF.