New Delhi: The high flying American campaign to win the ten billion dollar Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender has crashed. The Defence Ministry confirmed that Lockheed Martin's F-16 and the Boeing Super Hornet were out of the race to supply and co produce as many as 200 fighters for the Indian Air Force. Reportedly, neither aircraft met the IAF's technical requirements during trials.
In a statement US Ambassador Timothy Roemer said, "We are reviewing the documents received from the Government of India and are respectful of the procurement process. We are, however, deeply disappointed by this news."
The US campaign had drawn in none other than US President Barack Obama.
Obama said, "I am removing organisations associated with civil space and defense from the so called Entity List."
Also out of the race is the Swedish Gripen figher and the Russian MiG-35. Only the European consortium building the Eurofighter and the French firm Dassault which builds the Rafale have been invited to extend their commercial bids all of which were expiring today.
Former Commander-in-Chief, Western Air Command, IAF Air Marshal AK Singh said, "I think it is an excellent decision. I must congratulate AK Antony. This is one decision where bureaucrats, politicians and the Air Force have worked in tandem."
The stage is now set for commercial negotiations. The winner will be the one that offers the lowest tender and meets Indian requirements in terms of offsets and technology transfer. The speculation is whether Washington will seek to reverse this decision by crying foul about the selection process.