The rumor among the Euro-aero-hacks in Paris this year was that all is not well with India's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft program, which prompted them to ask American industry officials if they thought they might end up getting another shot at it. (Boeing's top military aviation executive crossed his fingers.) But until and unless something actually happens, the Indians are going forward with their last round of competition between the Eurofighter Typhoon and France's Dassault Rafale -- and the British government is making clear that it wants them to buy the Typhoon.
As Jay Menon writes in AvWeek, the British want a taste of that $11 billion contract, which they'll get as part of the Euro-consortium that builds the Typhoon. But it's not only the Brits -- several European defense officials have apparently been making the trek to India to lobby for both pet jets, as Menon writes:
“The Eurofighter Typhoon not only provides India with cutting-edge operational capability, but also unmatched potential for an enduring strategic partnership in developing future defense technology,” said U.K. Defense Secretary Liam Fox after a meeting with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony in New Delhi July 8.He continues:
According to a British High Commission statement, Fox's visit to India underlines the commitment at the highest levels of the British and Indian defense establishments to ensure that defense cooperation is a fundamental pillar of the enhanced partnership between the U.K. and India as set out by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last July.
The Eurofighter consortium comprises Italy's Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems of the U.K., EADS CASA and EADS Germany. Recently, France and Germany also made last-ditch efforts to boost their companies' chances to win the fighter program.
French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet had pitched the Rafale during his visit to New Delhi in May, and the Eurofighter Typhoon topped the agenda during German Chancellor Angela Merkel's discussions with Prime Minister Singh on May 31. German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizere also met Antony on May 31.
EADS has even invited India to become a partner for the Typhoon program if the aircraft wins the contract. Eurofighter's offer to establish a production line in India could give it an edge.
The Rafale has the advantage of being logistically and operationally similar to the Mirage 2000. The Indian air force has similar fighters, and the Rafale's inclusion would require fewer changes in existing infrastructure.