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French company Dassault wins bid for IAF's 126 fighters

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Rafale in flight. Photo: Dassault Aviation.

NEW DELHI (PTI): French firm Dassault Rafale has bagged India's biggest-ever military contract for supplying 126 combat aircraft for the Air Force, edging out European rival EADS in the deal that may be worth about ten billion dollars.

The French firm was declared as the lowest bidder, according to which it will get the contract under India's defence procurement procedure, sources said.

"The French firm Dassault Rafale has emerged as the L-1 (lowest bidder) and cheaper than its European rival EADS (maker of Eurofighter) in the tender and will be offered to supply the aircraft to the IAF," the source said.

They said the representatives of Dassault here were informed about the development in the morning and further negotiations on price will be held with them in the next 10-15 days.

The contract will be signed only in the next fiscal.

Government has in 2007 earmarked Rs 42,000 crore for the deal.

According to the Request for Proposal (RFP), the winner of the contract will have to supply 18 of the 126 aircraft to the IAF in 36 months from its facilities and the remaining would be produced at HAL facilities in Bangalore.

Six companies, including American F-16 and F-18, Russian MiG 35, Swedish Saab Gripen along with Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale, were in the race in the beginning.

But in April last year the Defence Ministry shortlisted Dassault and EADS rejecting the American, Russian and Swedish bids.

The process was started with the issuing of a global tender in 2007, after which all the six contenders were subjected to extensive field evaluation trials by the Indian Air Force at several locations across the globe.

The bids of the two companies were opened by the IAF on November 4 last year and arrived at the lowest bidder after calculating the life cycle cost of the aircraft.

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