First Blood! Rafale ejected from MMRCA!

It's first blood in the Indian Air Force's Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition. And the first to bite the dust (also the one who probably needed the contract more than any of the other six contenders) is the French Rafale, developed and built by Dassault Aviation. The never-before-exported fighter has been counting immeasurably on the long and deep ties that its maker, Dassault, has shared with the Indian Air Force and government, especially the warm, fuzzy relationship it has made possible with the Mirage-2000s. But it's official now. Dassault's technical bid did not make the IAF's cut -- the reasons will come out in detail over the next few days. Dassault hasn't made an official comment on the news just yet (don't know if they've been officially intimated yet by the MoD about the down-select). That's got to hurt. I've shot off a few questions to the Dassault people in Saint Cloud. Let's see what they say. Watch this space.

The French media, which has (obviously) pounced onto the story is talking about how the elimination is just another sign of just what a cursed programme the Rafale is and how a possible Arab contract is its only hope. Well, that's what they said about the MMRCA contract, so.

For good measure, I've commissioned a column on "Rafale: First Blood" from an aviation watcher in Paris who has worked previously with the Rafale programme. That should be up here tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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