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MMRCA deal won't be a political decision: Antony

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Some of the global fighters contending for India's MMRCA deal.

BANGALORE (BNS): The multi-million dollar Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal floated by India will not be awarded on political grounds, Defence Minister A K Antony said Wednesday.

“There won’t be any political decision on the acquisition of the fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force. No political interference will be there while finalising the deal,” Antony told reports here.

He said the final decision in this regard will be based on staff (IAF) evaluation report and user trials. “No other consideration would be there,” he said while addressing the media during the 8th Aero India 2011 in Bangalore.

The Minister said that the process of acquiring the 126 combat fighters for IAF was proceeding very well and by next financial year, India will announce the winner for the contract worth over $10 billion.

India had floated the tender in 2007 to buy the fighters for the IAF. Six warplanes – Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet (US), Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Super Viper (US), United Aircraft Corporation’s MiG-35 (Russia), Saab’s Gripen (Sweden), Dassault Aviation’s Rafale (France) and EADS’ Eurofighter Typhoon (Europe) – are contending for the deal.

About the indigenous Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) programme of India, Antony said, “The lead project has started. No timeframe can be assigned at present for the project’s completion.”

On the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, which made spectacular flight display in public for the first time during the international air show on Wednesday, Antony said, “The aircraft needed some more improvement.”

The LCA got its Initial Operational Clearance for the IAF last month.

About the acquisition of helicopters of various class for the Indian armed forces, Antony said the proceedings were going on well.

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