MMRCA RFP buried; Parrikar drops enough hints

Written by: OneIndia Defence Desk
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Bengaluru, Apr 13: Just under 48 hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit a clean one-ball 36 by asking the French government to deliver Rafale frontline fighters from Dassault Aviation via the government to government (G2G) route, his key man in the union cabinet and India's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar did a tail clean-up act on Monday, April 13.

Addressing the media at the South Block, ahead of his four-day visit to South Korea on Tuesday, Parrikar gave enough indications that the government was in no mood to continue with RFP for the 126 MMRCAs, currently stuck in a price-negotiation muddle.

parrikar

"A car cannot run on two paths simultaneously," the minister said, hinting at the possible closure of the tendering process related to the purchase of 126 MMRACs.

He further went on to add that the negotiation under the existing RFP had gone into a loop with no solution in sight.
"Thirty-six Rafale fighter aircraft to be acquired in fly away condition through a separate G2G negotiation. This route is better than the RFP path for acquisition of strategic platforms," Parrikar said.

Parrikar's clear indications have probably nullified all the noise associated with the deal which grabbed the headlines for many years now. The RFP for the MMRCAs, often referred to as the mother of all deals and entangled in the PNC mess for the last three years, could now be a closed chapter.

Defence top brain bang on target

It may be recalled that reacting to the deal, Air Marshal M Matheswaran (Retd), former Deputy Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff (Policy, Planning and Development), IAF and currently an Advisor to HAL, had told OneIndia recently that the RFP would be virtually dead with the order for 36 Rafales.

"The PNCs are good if they find a logical solution. In my personal opinion the RFP is a closed chapter now. I am sure the government will take a fresh call. All the future moves will be linked to Make in India, ToT (Transfer of Technology), production standards, delivery schedules and HAL's role," Matheswaran, had told OneIndia, soon after the PM made an announcement in Paris.

Details of Hollande talks with Dassault awaited

It was also reported in these columns earlier that French President Francois Hollande was scheduled to hold a meeting in Paris today to iron out the jet deal.

Hollande was to meet top officials from Dassault Aviation to find a way forward to expedite the order as requested by India. The details of this meet are awaited.

On Parrikar's South Korean trip, MoD Spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said that the talks would hover around collaborations in defence products. "FICCI is also sending a business delegation," he tweeted.

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