Spoke last evening to my friend and colleague on the beat Srinjoy Chowdhry about his report on Times NOW to get a better sense of what it was all about, and to clarify some of the stuff left tantalizingly unsaid. Srinjoy's sources tell him the air force has based its trial evaluation report (submitted on August 1) on the overarching and unstated directive that it needs select a "modern western combat aircraft". Read those first two words carefully, because they mean different things to different people in the air force, government and aircraft-manufacturer campaign offices. Anyway, by this frame of reference, according to Srinjoy's sources, the MiG-35 is out because it isn't western or modern -- the IAF definitely doesn't want to squander this opportunity buying more Russian hardware. The F-16 is out because it isn't a modern platform with promising developing latitude ahead of it, they say. Interestingly, the F/A-18 is a "borderline case" according to his sources, who indicated to him that the Gripen is out because it's too much like the Tejas, and buying the Gripen would be to preempt and make redundant the Tejas programme. Significantly, according to Srinjoy's report, the IAF has cleared all six fighters for the next level, but clearly indicated its preference in an order of merit. In other words, a green light for the Rafale and Eurofighter, a yellow light for the F/A-18, and big red for the Gripen, F-16 and MiG-35. Also, it is almost certain that the final order for aircraft will be closer to 200 airplanes.