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Summer trials for multi-role combat aircraft in August

A file photo of F/A-18F Super Hornet.

NEW DELHI (BNS): Indian Government has issued letter of invite for six contenders, to begin summer trials for 126 medium-range, multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The trials are likely to begin in August and will continue till April 2010, according to a media report.

The six companies in contention for the $10-billion deal are European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), which has offered the Eurofighter Typhoon; American firms Lockheed Martin (F-16 'Falcon',Block 60) and Boeing Integrated Defence System (F/A-18F 'super Hornet'); Russian Aircraft Corp's MiG-35; Swedish Saab's Gripen (JAS-39) and French major, Dassault's Rafale.

The contenders have reportedly agreed to participate in the field trials on a no-cost, no-commitment basis. This means that contenders would bring their aircraft and crew, with no cost to the government.

The Financial Express,quoted its Industry sources as saying," The trials would take place in three phases, the first phase is usually a familiarisation phase, where the contenders would be staying at a training base. The second phase would initially be conducted in the country under local conditions and subsequently in the country of origin for weapons."

Trials will take place in two session. Out of six, four firms will complete the summer trails by October and the rest would conduct their summer trials in March-April next year as said by the newspaper. Trials will face summer and winter effects, altitude conditions in the cold Ladakh region of north India, the desert region of Rajasthan and hot and humid south India.

The evaluation trials would be conducted by various teams composed of test pilots, engineers and maintenance crew, which will be drawn primarily from the Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment (ASTE), it added.

Once the trials and commercial bids are over, two to three top contenders would be shortlisted. "The list is based on three criteria technical and field trial requirements, cost of the aircraft and country's strategic requirement, the newspaper said. Under the present terms and conditions, the first aircraft deliveries will commence only four years after a contract is signed, it said.

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