The Indian government has eliminated U.S. aerospace companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin from an estimated $10 billion tender competition for a medium multirole combat aircraft despite strong U.S. government support for the proposals.
In an April 28 statement, the U.S. embassy in New Delhi said it had learned the previous day that the Indian government had not selected either of the two U.S. bids for the final stage of the procurement process. The original field of six aircraft now has been narrowed to two: the French Dassault Rafale and the multinational Eurofighter consortium’s Typhoon.
Boeing offered the Indian air force the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, while Lockheed Martin offered the F-16IN Super Viper. Indian officials also have eliminated bids by Saab of Sweden and RSK MiG of Russia. The tender calls for the delivery of 18 completed aircraft and the joint production in India of another 108, at a total initial cost of roughly $10 billion. Follow-on spare parts sales and maintenance costs could increase that figure over the lifespan of the aircraft.
In the U.S. embassy statement, Ambassador Timothy Roemer said that despite being “deeply disappointed,” the United States looked forward “to continuing to grow and develop our defense partnership with India.”
The U.S. government has backed the efforts of arms manufacturers to expand their business with India, in part by working with the Indian government to reach agreement on end-use monitoring arrangements in 2009 to clear the way for the export of advanced U.S. equipment. (See ACT, September 2009.) Speaking in Baltimore Oct. 13, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake said 27,000 U.S. jobs would be generated by the success of either U.S. bid. While in India in November, President Barack Obama said that a strong defense trade relationship would benefit both countries. (See ACT, December 2010.)