New Delhi: India has extended a 3 March 2008 deadline for contending aerospace firms to submit their tenders for 126 Indian Air force medium range multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), worth nearly $12 billion, the government said Thursday.
The announcement of the eight-week extension comes after reports that one or more bidders had sought additional time. The deadline had been set for March 3.
India floated the global tender for the fighter jets last August and said six contenders were on a short list. The request for proposals had gone out for the RSK MiG-35, Saab Gripen JAS-39, Lockheed Martin F-16E/F, Boeing F/A-18, Dassault's Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
A defence ministry spokesman informed the media that some of the contenders had sought more time to finalise their offers and that these requests had come in at the last minute.
"We want to ensure that there is maximum competition till the last stage and also some vendors had expressed the view in various fora that they should be given more time to tie up with Indian industry for collaborative efforts," spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.
"Also, our objective is to get the best equipment and platforms at the best price and so we want (that) the competition should remain wide," Kar added.
While the American contenders Boeing and Lockheed Martin appear to be ready with their proposals it would appear that it might be some European firms who would have called for extra time.
It would also appear that a recent announcement by the Indian government that the country's defence procurement policy is being reworked might be responsible for the delay.