India will announce the winner of the multi-billion dollar contract for procurement of the next generation fighter aircraft by the end of the month even as complex calculations are being worked out to pick the best suited among the contenders to meet the requirements of the air force.
The two contenders - French Dassault Rafale and EADS Eurofighter have been scrutinised and final calculations related to life cycle costs and transfer of technology are under preparation. Though according to unnamed IAF sources cited by The Indian Express the winner would be announced in the next 10 days, according to defence ministry officials the decision would be announced by the end of this month.
With both contending models having cleared the technical trials, the decision would be taken on the basis of which one of the two would work out cheaper, not only in terms of immediate capital costs but also on the basis of long-term operating and maintenance costs. The French proposal is said to be slightly cheaper, though the both the defence ministry as also the IAF are maintaining a studied silence on the probable winner.
According to the sources cited by The Indian Express, the final signing on the contract, many not happen for another six months; it was originally planned to sign the contract this financial year, but the same could be shifted beyond March.
Quoting the same sources, the paper said while the fighter project would be the biggest acquisition being handled by the Air Force, another project for the procurement of a new basic trainer fleet would also be discussed by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) this week.
The IAF has already selected the Swiss Pilatus PC 7 aircraft for the deal to purchase 75 basic trainers.