India examines rival bids for huge war plane deal

Published: November 4, 2011
A Dassault military jet Rafale in Le Bourget. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

A Dassault military jet Rafale in Le Bourget. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

NEW DELHI: India on Friday examined rival bids from France’s Dassault and the Eurofighter consortium, which are competing over an estimated $12 billion contract to provide 126 fighter jets.

The deal to supply war planes to fast-developing India has been fiercely fought over for four years, and the opening of the bids started the final phase of the decision-making process.

“Members of the contract negotiation committee met in front of representatives of the vendors,” defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told reporters.

An official, who declined to be named, said that it could be some weeks before the successful bid is announced after the ministry examines the “life-cycle” maintenance costs of each plane and other contract details.

India in April pulled a surprise by cutting out US bidders Boeing and Lockheed Martin, much to Washington’s disappointment, as well as dropping Sweden’s Saab AB and the Russian makers of the MiG 35 from the race.

Dassault’s Rafale plane and the Eurofighter Typhoon have both been in action over Libya in recent months during the international operation to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians from Moamer Kadhafi’s forces.

James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly, said the contract was “the single biggest competition in the global defence aviation industry at the moment.”

“Both aircraft… are coming off successful performances as part of the NATO air campaign in Libya,” he said. “Failure here would be a major blow after both made substantial investment in promoting their platforms in India.”

A source for the French group, who declined to be identified, said last week that the decision “could take months if the (price) gap is narrow.”

Dassault’s rival, Eurofighter, is produced by a consortium of Britain’s BAE Systems, Italy’s Finmeccanica and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

The contract is for the outright purchase of 18 combat aircraft by 2012 with another 108 to be built in India with options to acquire more.

Such a large order attracted strong lobbying during visits to India last year by US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

India, the biggest importer of military hardware among emerging nations, issued the request for proposals in 2007 and trials of aircraft from the six companies competing for the deal began a year later.

The procurement of the fighter jets is a key part of India’s military upgrade programme, aimed at securing its borders against rivals Pakistan and China.

Both plane makers are relying on the contract to secure their futures amid falling defence budgets in developed markets, with Dassault also keen to sign up its first foreign buyer for the Rafale plane.

Earlier this week, the US said it would be prepared to sell India the new F-35 fighter jet in an apparent attempt to re-enter the lucrative market to modernise India’s military.

International consultancy firm KPMG estimates New Delhi will hand out military contracts worth $112 billion by 2016.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (43)

  • Su 30MKI
    Nov 4, 2011 - 5:29PM

    from my name itself you see, i am big fan of su 30mki, one of best fighter aircraft in 4++ generation category…su 30 will remain our first line of defence aircraft, and as well as offense operations. this deal is to fill the gap between a air superiorty (which we have mig 29, su30) and air support aircraft( jaguar), to play a role as defence and agreesive role, so to as as multi role aircraft

    typhoon is primarily known as air superiority, and rafael played multirole aircraft..more over, typhoon is developed by consortium of countries and been with many airforce, so we will loose the confidentiality of fighter performance, unless rafale is only been used by french airforce.

    beyond that, dassault is already having a naval version of rafale for its aircraft carrier. since india is planning to have addtional two more aircraft carrier, we could buy naval version too, and will not have maintanence problem…. rafael is the safest and the best buy for IAF…. not to forget, we already have french platform for 20 years, and iaf pilots know how to use french systems. as we have mirage with us and performed superbly during kargil conflict..

    being a amateur defence analyst, I am damm sure about rafael candidature, if anything goes wrong against rafael it would be political and arm twisted by eurofighter gmbh..


  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 4, 2011 - 5:50PM

    Why dont india spent this money on country poors and shanty town what a country and
    Junoon of war and also champion of crocotiles tears Europe and america trying hard to
    grab these poor peoples money shame on both…


  • Drone-Acharya
    Nov 4, 2011 - 5:58PM

    @Ali Tanoli: “Why dont india spent this money on country poors and shanty town…”
    If events like the Mumbai Attacks never happened, you may be right. But still, India’s per capita income is 60% more than Pakistan’s. Besides, India spends much much lesser on defense as a percentage of GDP than Pakistan. I could ask you the same question.


  • Hamid Javaid
    Nov 4, 2011 - 6:00PM

    They selected Libya as practicing fields to show the client (India) the effectiveness and preciseness of their weapons what they are selling and how accurate the machines are if their client (India) is really interested to buy their production. Capitalistic economies are cruel to the core. Spend these money on the poor people of India to make them feels that their country cares about them and this will produce a sense among them to protect their country and boost their economy. Over come the fears, this is the first sign of brave nation and no body else dare to eye it. Get rid of commission extracting people who will be mainly beneficial for this deal.

    We are suffering as we was not able to over come our fears and if you want to suffer then the choice is yours.


  • an avid lover
    Nov 4, 2011 - 6:10PM

    @Ali Tanoli:

    i agree with you bro but want to say that power makes money and money makes power,world is not much civilised yet. the reality is, be it america or china or western countries they first grew up, became powerful, made furhter money with this power by exploiting world resources.
    all this upgrading of force is for securing and furthering of indian interest, for being an economic and world power so it can meet china or US or any other country on equal terms. the india is eager to play as key player in international arena for which the military power matters equally as economic might if one understand the reality.


  • Khan
    Nov 4, 2011 - 6:42PM

    On one hand our cousins across the border are pleading that future isn’t for wars and its all about economy while on the other hand they support such huge sale and wastage of money. Sure they are much stronger than Pakistan and have much more equipment and know very well its not against Pakistan but against China. Both countries are economic power and should only concentrate on that area instead of filling pockets of Western countries who first invested in education and built these toys.
    Spend this huge amount of money on quality education and in few decades son of your soil will be able to create whatever the needs of military are, the same is true for our myopic establishment.
    We the people should stop supporting our militaries for these toys as they are obsessed with it for no apparent reason.


  • A.Khan
    Nov 4, 2011 - 7:25PM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    yes you are right. there are other priorities than just keep buying war planes. It looks like India want to be in the good books of Europe. As well as the maintenance for those planes are cheaper than other of USA competitors


  • antony
    Nov 4, 2011 - 7:53PM

    Ali Tanoli, When Pakistan was testing nuclear missiles last month like fire crackers when floods devastated sindh you were silent and I guess gloating over the military might of pakistani army and now when you feel genuinely threatened by (mine is bigger than you statement-news) from India you talk about poor people of India ..


  • Su 30MKI
    Nov 4, 2011 - 7:53PM

    @ Ali : well atleast its our money, we didnt beg others to buy weapons….

    just a short story : i have a two neighbours, one neighbour is good enough to buy mercedes s class, the other neighbour is so poor that he could buy a two wheeler, so this neighbour came to me and said why the other guy is spending his money on cars, its so irritating to see such a big car that block the road, that consume gas, and pollute air.. well i ask, you do have a bike, which consume gas and pollute air..if he can afford to buy mercedes, whats ur problem.. coz, i am damm poor, and cant afford one, so what u gonna do now ? Well, I am good at trolling.. oh wait ! how do i look like when im trolling ? Honestly sir ! you look like a sore loser! @#$@#


  • Rsingh
    Nov 4, 2011 - 8:05PM

    If FT and TOI reports are to be believed the deal well poised to exceed 20 billion $ mark and India would go for excess of 180 fighter. With around 180 Mig21 and 70 Mig27 to be phased out around 2017-18 and with IAF strength reduced to just 32 squadron this deal is very long over due.


  • gk
    Nov 4, 2011 - 8:15PM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    this is from around 2% of Indian gdp, defence budget is a different thing, no compromise in it as bcoz of our neighbors :). as a paki, you may know better than meee..


  • gk
    Nov 4, 2011 - 8:29PM

    @Ali Tanoli:

    you can’t do anything to counter it, so ‘peacefull’ trolls are allowed.


  • Paras Vikmani
    Nov 4, 2011 - 8:46PM

    India is looking at China and buying this,not at Pakistan.


  • KJ
    Nov 4, 2011 - 10:45PM

    @Ali & @Khan,

    You guys are partially right (that money may be spend on the good of the poor & eduacation), but if you study the history of India since thousand of years, Invaders have being coming and exploiting our land and resources, Indians did not invite Alexandra, Mughals, British etc to loot us and lately the wars with Pakistan. We live with the prinicple of “Live and Let Live” but you never know other people intentions, suddently a nut like Hitler can have a dream to rule or cleanse the people of the world and all your progress may be wipe out.

    You need to have security along with economic progress. In my opinion both have there own importance. Thats why people who have something valuable in their homes install gates and security alarms in their houses,not the people who live in the shantys.

    Peaceful Guy.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:04AM

    My German american friend just visited india and his telling about india was dire poverty,
    protien less peoples yellow faces, cows sh…. on streets, no garbage collecting for weeks
    beggars like flys, and class diffrence like day and night…..


  • G. Din
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:24AM

    “We the people should stop supporting our militaries for these toys as they are obsessed with it for no apparent reason.”
    Come back when you have convinced your military and we shall talk. OK?
    @Hamid Javaid:
    Even your own country doesn’t much care about your advice, so why take it out of garbage can and waste it all over again by giving it to us?


  • Taimoor
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:07AM

    Who cares if India gets it or not, the fact is all three countries have the trump card, nukes. And seeing how close they are to each other all three will be a nuclear wasteland before these ever take off.


  • Peace lover
    Nov 5, 2011 - 5:07AM

    @Ali Tanoli
    Lucky your german friends didnt visit pakistan..


  • emma
    Nov 5, 2011 - 5:54AM

    @Ali Tanoli:

    it has nothing to do with defence budget, has it? we can blame huge population, history, politicians, and time.


  • Khan
    Nov 5, 2011 - 6:06AM

    Please read below
    @G. Din:
    Come back when you have convinced your military and we shall talk. OK?
    First you need to read what I wrote and then comment as I did addressed my comments to OUR govt too –> (the same is true for our myopic establishment)… Its your money & Your choice throw it in the pockets of recession hit countries .. Its nuclear region if God forbids war breaks out on full scale no one will be left to fly hundreds of war planes .. if its on limited scale you won’t need more than a dozen of them.


  • Khan
    Nov 5, 2011 - 6:17AM

    You guys need to take our suggestion calmly .. If its not money you can shove it where the sun never shines … But what ever we or I suggested was purely based with good intentions .. You can spend trillions on buying ready made stuff which will be obsolete in few decades or put that money in to education and develop it yourself to sell it to others?
    As your GDP comparison is concern .. How about we talk figures ?
    If events like the Mumbai Attacks never happened, you may be right
    Hopefully those kind of barbarianism is never repeated but are you saying India is buying 180 war planes because a dozen savages did that ? How is that going to be used in those situations?.
    Any full scale war is going to be nuclear via NC missiles or through dozen planes any thing on shorter scale will require less than a dozen no matter who you fight it with.. quality should be priority not quantity.


  • Bilal
    Nov 5, 2011 - 6:23AM

    Pakistan can also buy these aircraft, from any damn country, if we can export $25 Billion per Annum then we can also buy these planes [Pakistan should by eying the most advance one F-35 whose per unit cost is $122 Million; atleast we can afford 12 of them to counter Indian threat], All we need is some sincere leader like Imran khan.

    FYI : Pakistanis send $12Billion per year back home.


  • Khan
    Nov 5, 2011 - 6:30AM

    @Su 30MKI:
    If a neighbor is able to buy mercedez S class he/she will first make sure to buy a better house so that his damn mercedez doesn’t block the street and doesn’t look stupidest person on the whole planet who lives in a mud house with his brothers starving but he insists on buying mercedez. First make good use of the money. if you can’t heed sincere advice then don’t act like a sore loser and don’t comment here.


  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 5, 2011 - 9:30AM

    Ultimately India will go for F-35 due to Stealth Factor. Mr. Anna should keep a very close watch on this deal. We in Pakistan are least bothered about any purchase by India because we have “Stealth Strategic Assets” so no wake up call for us.


  • Anonymous
    Nov 5, 2011 - 11:27AM


    60% higher? Sources? Too bad most of the Indian wealth is in the hands of the super-rich. India has many more poor per capita than Pakistan.


  • Jack
    Nov 5, 2011 - 11:42AM

    @Proud Pakistani:
    Dude – appreciate your concern. But as a percentage of our GDP it is not too high, and lack of preparedness on sensitive borders can turn out to be much more expensive. It is also far more visible than what China and Russia spends because we need to make all these purchases from abroad – not enough indigenous production. But frankly, it is a much better investment than in stockpiling nukes that you are never going to be able to use. The largest slum in asia and rebellions in NE and in naxal areas will also need to be looked into, and there are monies that are ear-marked for that as well – so do not imagine that we are not able to address these issues on account of lack of funds. It is more about providing inclusive growth so that all these Indians feel the benefits of economic growth that people in the South, West, Delhi and Punjab are increasingly enjoying.


  • usman ramu perrera
    Nov 5, 2011 - 11:52AM

    @Aftab Kenneth Wilson:
    babur?? you call it matchwinner??? then stop JF17 induction and make ‘Stealth Strategic Assets’ using that money.

    We in Pakistan are least bothered
    about any purchase by India


  • Jack
    Nov 5, 2011 - 11:52AM

    Hi – as mentioned earlier, I get your point. However, pls understand that in the case of China, we are highly unlikely to face a nuclear situation because China is also building conventional capabilities significantly. You may ask why is China investing this much – it still has a restive Xinjiang and Tibet province, millions in the hinterlands of their Western provinces who are still to enjoy the benefits that their compatriots in the East already have – and a GDP per capita which, while much higher than India and Pakistan, is still extremely low compared to countries like Japan, S. Korea, let alone US and Europe. But the fact is that conventional deterrent makes much more sense than nuclear deterrent because it gives you capabilities for limited conflict with low collateral civilian damage, and allows you to protect your ever increasing assets abroad too. India fears China and is building its capabilities to send a message that a limited war would not be that easy for China either, while it wants to protect its assets as well. It is foolish to imagine that this is happening at the cost of quelling internal disturbances as that is not a question of funds availability but failure to provide inclusive growth.


  • Deb
    Nov 5, 2011 - 3:25PM


    I appreciate your sensible views.
    We need more people like you on both sides of the border.


  • Ali Tanoli,
    Nov 5, 2011 - 4:56PM

    @K J
    Because of that Hitler u indians got freedom today other wise Gandhi couldn’t do it…Recommend

  • MD
    Nov 5, 2011 - 6:44PM

    @Anonymous & Ali Tanoli
    You pak guys always prefer to keep your heads buried in the sand. Pakistan is far more a poorer country than India and still you have the guts to shed tears on India’s poverty instead of caring for the plight of your own poor. Here is the link that will show you per capita income of the both the countries.

    India’s per capita income is $1,477 and Pakistan’s just $1,007. And one more thing the above figures are for 2010 and once wikipedia releases new figures for 2011, Drone-Acharya’s claim would be proved absolutely right.
    And please don’t start harping on the inequality factor because it is more rampant in Pakistan than in India. Immediately after the independence Govt. of India abolished the Jamindari/Jagirdari system and confiscated all excessive land holdings & other properties of the Rajas, Nawabs, Jamindars and other feudal lords and redistributed it amongst the landless farmers. Sadly it was not done in Pakistan and that is why your parliament is dominated by the feudal lords.
    India spends little over 2% of its GDP on defense and yet due to the sheer size her economy the defense budget reaches to about $40 billion dollars which is much more higher than Pakistan’s entire national budget (about $27 billion). Satisfied now?
    Now I hope you will show little more concern for your own poor! Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli,
    Nov 5, 2011 - 7:30PM

    We dont have peoples born on curbs and dies like india and we dont have slums like they
    shows in (slumdog india) and i think somebody visiting both countries understand the diffrences.


  • Indian
    Nov 5, 2011 - 8:13PM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    Approx. figure –

    GDP – $165 Billion
    Military expenditure – 3% = $4.95 billion

    GDP – $1.73 Trillion
    Military expenditure – 2% = $35 billion

    & it was 1% till last year..Believe me we don’t have Junoon of war.

    We didn’t had war with much smaller countries than Pakistan in our neighborhood like Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka.
    There are some sections of society in every country who are extremist who always want to solve problem with fight. Fortunate thing would be those sections should be less & not majority.

    Even it hurts that we spend staggering $35 billion on defence (even though we have lot of poor people), but seems it’s necessary because one of our neighbor China, claimed Tibet, claiming Vietnam Waters & we had a defeat from china in 1962.

    We want romance with every country in this world.
    We want peace.


  • Ali Tanoli,
    Nov 5, 2011 - 10:21PM

    We are less woried after Beautyfull day of May 1998 now we know those less cuckoo will
    think twiss before any great game to start playing.


  • Sajjad Hussain
    Nov 6, 2011 - 11:00AM

    @Ali, it is their money.If we have that amount of money we would be doing the same.


  • khalis
    Nov 6, 2011 - 12:09PM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    India is spending more than 30 billion dollars every year on poors, what more you want. its not like pakistan that you have handful of money and you have to only one way to spend it as its distribution can not take place.

    moreover why dont you take care of your poors, if your govt dont bring out correct figures in the wake of criticism then its your fault. we all know what state pakistan is in.


  • khalis
    Nov 6, 2011 - 12:13PM

    out of this 12 billion, as per the offset clause by indian govt, the companies will be forced to source material worth 4 billion dollars from india itself which will bring more tech, employment and prosperity. in this way poor welfare and arms buyout are made to go on single path.

    silence now over poverty


  • jj
    Nov 6, 2011 - 12:30PM

    @Ali Tanoli,:
    India didn’t start any war, its all by pakistan and the last one was after some daydream about that ‘beautiful day’ but result was opposite. but now you should think twice before starting any great game.


  • antanu g
    Nov 6, 2011 - 12:58PM

    Not to worry…with flailing economy of US and Europ…india is an ideal country to become an escapegoat with huge defence purchases.thats why india is being wooed by major arms. One wonders how much time it will take them to milk india and then make it again a begger bowl like Russia of 1990s.Recommend

  • antanu g
    Nov 6, 2011 - 1:10PM

    againb …pak econmy is abot 400 billion $.further there is no match owing to the size of india and its population. if you calculate the average on the basis of size and population…u will find both of them equal


  • Surya
    Nov 6, 2011 - 1:42PM

    @Ali Tanoli,:
    Even America got people living in poverty (17%) and i’ve seen the same in many parts of China (they are very good in masquareding these in cities)..We didn’t beg IMF or Uncle Sam for this deal I see your comments as more of an sour grapes since this single deal itself is ard 50% of pak. national budget for 2012 since our whole defence budget is only 2-3% of the entire budget.. So obviously, you should start your charity of advicing from your country (that is, if GHQ will listen to you)Recommend

  • Khalid Ahmed
    Nov 6, 2011 - 2:03PM

    @Ali Tanoli and others ranting about Indian poverty:

    Poverty can’t be removed by government spending on subsidies. Poverty can be removed by private investment which India is doing pretty good. The Indian poverty rate has already peaked and is now decreasing.

    Also, as said by many, India’s defence spending is one of the lowest among major economies. As Indian economy grows, its defence spending also steadily increases even though its percentage of GDP remains the same.


  • Mr. Singh
    Nov 7, 2011 - 7:33PM

    @Ali Tanoli,:
    Little surprised when u said u indians got freedom with help from Hitler. My point is even u were indian(ancesters) before partition.


More in World