New Delhi: French company Dassault Aviation's Rafale has won the $10.4 billion deal to supply 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
According to sources, Rafale won the multi-billion dollar deal as it was found to be similar to the French Mirage 2000 fighter jet, which is already being operated by the IAF.
Rafale beat the Eurofighter Typhoon to bag the deal. Rafale was preferred as its commercial bid was lower than Eurofighter Typhoon. The Eurofighter bid was backed by four partner nations - Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
According to the Request for Proposal (RFP) the IAF will buy the first 18 aircraft off the shelf in the next 36 months while the other 118 will be manufactured at HAL facilities in Bangalore.
The Rafale fighter entered service with the French Air Force in 2004. It is twin-engine jet, configured for multi-role operations including air defence, ground attack and reconnaissance. The plane can can deliver nine tonnes of bombs and also fire a range of missiles including anti-ship, air to air, air to ground.
The naval variant of the fighter is also serving with the French Navy.
The IAF had invited bids from military aviation majors to supply 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraf for which six contenders - Russia's MIG- 35, USA's F-16 Falcon (Lockheed Martin), F-18 Hornet (Boeing), Swedish Saab Gripen, European EADS EuroFighter Typhoon and Rafale.
Following lengthy field trials across the globe the Typhoon and Rafale were shortlisted while the rest were rejected as they failed to meet the technical qualifications specified by the IAF.
The process to acquire 126 fighter jests started with the issuing of a global tender in 2007.