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U.S. Jets May Be Out of India’s Fighter Contest

by John Reed on April 27, 2011

FYI, it looks like European aerospace companies are set to build India’s next crop of 126 fighters if what several Indian defense blogs are reporting is true. Apparently, the Eurofighter Typhoon and France’s Rafale fighters have been shortlisted for India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft contest.

This knocks Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed’s F-16IN out of the running along with Saab’s Gripen and Russia’s MiG-35. Those jets didn’t pass the “technical evaluation conducted by the IAF,” according to StratPost.

Boeing officials are tight-lipped so far. “We have seen the media reports coming out of India. We’re waiting to hear directly from the Indian Government before make any further comment,” said company spokesman Damien Mills in an e-mail to DT.

If true, the effective loss of the MMRCA contest is a pretty big blow to Boeing’s fighter business. Yes, the U.S. Navy is buying 124 Super Hornet’s and EA-18G Growlers over the next four years, but after that we’ll see. Boeing may be able to win the (potentially) 120-jet FX-2 contest in Brazil where it faces off against the Rafale and Gripen. But the Brazilian competition has been mired in controversy for a while now. I suppose the future of the Super Hornet depends, in part, on how the F-35 program comes along and whether it can get its costs under control in the next few years.

Maybe the Chicago-based company can make some headway with this version of the jet or its proposed F-15SE Silent Eagle.

As for the two remaining MMRCA competitors, Teal Group aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia tells DT:

If real, it’s potentially very good news for either plane, but I’d give Eurofighter the edge.  Partnering with BAE Systems sounds easier for HAL and India’s Air Force than partnering with Dassault and France.  The Eurofighter upgrade roadmap is a bit more comprehensive than Rafale’s too.

Good on Steve Trimble for spotting this story.

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