October 04, 2013 - by Shiv Aroor – Livefist
He's been known to be unequivocally optimistic about the $20-billion M-MRCA fighter competition so far, but IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne sounded anxious and uncertain over the deal, currently still in negotiations.
"We have no back-up plan. We need to get the deal going, or we'll face a big shortfall of fighters in the 2017-22 period," said Browne at his annual press conference ahead of Air Force Day on October 8. "The deal has to work. There's no other option."
The IAF chief rued the death of MoD Joint Secretary (Acquisitions) Arun Bal, saying his demise was tragic and a setback to several acquisition cases, particularly the MMRCA, which he handled directly.
"Negotiations on the MMRCA are still on. Cannot place a timeline on when the deal will be signed," the IAF chief said, marking the first time when he's left the timeframe open. In the past, Browne has commonly put down a specific time by which he said he expected the deal or paperwork to be complete.
Dismissing speculation about exchange rate fluctuations jeopardising high-value acquisitions like the MMRCA, the Chief said such contingencies had been accounted for, and wouldn't impact the acquisition decision.