India will open bids tomorrow for an $11 billion contract to buy fighter jets for its air force.
Two European contenders - Eurofighter, which makes the Typhoon fighter jet and is a four-nation consortium of EADS, representing Germany and Spain, Britain's BAE Systems and Italy's Finmeccanica will compete against France’s Dassault, which makes the Rafale plane – to sell India 126 fighter jets. American, Russian and Swedish bids were rejected in April.
"A meeting is scheduled tomorrow for the bids," a defence source said. The air force would prefer to award the deal only to one company, rather than splitting the order between the remaining two firms, a second source said.
"With a potential contract price of $9 billion to $14 billion, this is the single biggest competition in the global defence aviation industry at the moment and offers both bidders a much-needed opportunity in a major market," James Hardy, Asia Pacific Editor at IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, wrote in an email statement.
For the Rafale, it would leave it without an export order and pegging its hopes on competition in the United Arab Emirates and Brazil, while the Typhoon would have to rely on securing contracts in Japan and other Asian markets, he said.
India is the world's largest arms importer, accounting for 9 per cent of the global arms trade between 2006 and 2010, according to data from Swedish think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It plans to spend $50 billion over the next five years to upgrade its military, which largely consists of Soviet-era gear, to counter the rising might of China and threats from Pakistan.
The US expressed interest on Wednesday to sell its most sophisticated fighter to India, six months after New Delhi rejected two older US warplanes for the fighter jet deal.
The elimination of the US competitors came despite lobbying from US President Barack Obama and coincided with the unexpected resignation of the US ambassador to India.