Typhoons photo: Geoffrey Lee
Jul 11, 2011 By Jay Menon AviationWeek.com
NEW DELHI — Britain has outlined its strong support for the Eurofighter Typhoon’s bid for the Indian air force’s $11 billion Medium-Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program, as the U.K. seeks to advance its defense industrial cooperation with the country.
“The Eurofighter Typhoon not only provides India with cutting-edge operational capability, but also unmatched potential for an enduring strategic partnership in developing future defense technology,” said U.K. Defense Secretary Liam Fox after a meeting with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony in New Delhi July 8.
According to a British High Commission statement, Fox’s visit to India underlines the commitment at the highest levels of the British and Indian defense establishments to ensure that defense cooperation is a fundamental pillar of the enhanced partnership between the U.K. and India as set out by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last July.
“In today’s world of multi-layered security and economic interdependence, the U.K. and India are looking for relationships that are built on partnership and respect, not one-off transactions,” Fox says.
The Tyhpoon is pitted against French company Dassault Aviation’s Rafale for the MMRCA program. Indian authorities are set to open final bids for the 126-aircraft order.
The Eurofighter consortium comprises Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems of the U.K., EADS CASA and EADS Germany. Recently, France and Germany also made last-ditch efforts to boost their companies’ chances to win the fighter program.
French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet had pitched the Rafale during his visit to New Delhi in May, and the Eurofighter Typhoon topped the agenda during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s discussions with Prime Minister Singh on May 31. German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizere also met Antony on May 31.
EADS has even invited India to become a partner for the Typhoon program if the aircraft wins the contract. Eurofighter’s offer to establish a production line in India could give it an edge.
The Rafale has the advantage of being logistically and operationally similar to the Mirage 2000. The Indian air force has similar fighters, and the Rafale’s inclusion would require fewer changes in existing infrastructure.