Acquisition of 126 fighter jets on track, deadline can be extended: IAF Chief

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New Delhi, May 4 (ANI): Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, has said the acquisition of the 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) is right on the track, and added that the deadline for the 10 billion dollar purchase can be extended by an year.

The acquisition of 126 air and ground attack fighters will elevate India's Air Force to super-power status.

The Defence Ministry asked the short listed vendors to resubmit their bids after the original deadline expires shortly. The government accepted bids for 126 fighter jets two years ago.

"Actually it is three year deadline. It's a routine thing, deadline would extend, but as far as process is concerned it is on track as it was visualised at that time and is continuing on that track," Air Chief Marshal Naik told ANI when asked about delay in the acquisition of MMRCA and expiry of the deadline.

The Indian Air Force chief said there is no delay in the modernisation of the IAF.

The Defence Ministry was expected to complete the bid evaluation by April 28 after all the six vendors complete flight trials early last month. Now, the deadline has been missed contract rules call for rebidding.

"Everything takes time. There are six aircrafts to be evaluated and it is not an easy task. I am very happy and proud who have done this on time. Few things are left and they will end by mid May," Air Chief Marshal Naik said.

"Because of ash cloud over Europe, flights got delayed, but only for 5-10 days, our testing is on schedule, deadline expiry is a routine thing, which happens everywhere," he added.

The contenders for mother of all Indian defence deals are Lockheed Martin's F-16, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, France's Dassault Rafale, Russia's MiG-35, Sweden's Saab (SAABb.ST) JAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by a consortium of European companies. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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