India has decided not to buy Rafale fighters from French firm Dassault Aviation as part of a 12-billion-dollar upgrade of its air force, an Indian defence ministry official said Thursday.
The official said Dassault, one of six contenders in the race for a share of the mammoth contract, had failed to meet India's technical requirements.
"The Rafale is out of the race for the tender process, because during the technical evaluation the company did not meet all the user requirements," said the senior ministry official, who was speaking on condition he not be named.
"Dassault cannot submit fresh proposals or offer any other variants for technical evaluation, and is permanently out of the race. We now have one less bidder in the process," the official told AFP.
Industry sources have said that US-based Lockheed Martin, offering the F-16, and Boeing with its F-18 "Superhornet" have emerged as front-runners in bidding for the 12-billion-dollar, 126-jet contract.
The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company has offered its Typhoon Eurofighter, while Russian manufacturers of the MiG-35 and MiG-29, as well as Sweden's Saab, which makes the Gripen fighter, are also in the running.
The contract includes the outright purchase of 18 fighter jets by 2012 with another 108 to be built in India.
It's fascinating to see the US fighters offered to India. To says a lot about the evolution of relations between the US and India since 1971 (?) when we sent an aircraft carrier off western India to be threatening. I ahve to rather like the change.