[UPDATED] MMRCA Bids Open, Lowest Bidder In December

The M-MRCA bids are officially open. Senior officials from Dassault and EADS Cassidian were at Air Force HQ for the authentication and opening of bids in the presence of a host of MoD officers including, my sources tell me, DG (Acquisitions) Vivek Rae, Joint Secretary & Acquisition Manager (Air) Ranjan Ghose and Technical Manager (Air) Air Vice Marshal J.S. Panesar.

The Eurofighter team at the bid opening was led by a senior EADS Cassidian official (not Dr Stefan Zoller as earlier posted), while the Rafale team was led by Dassault Aviation Vice President Alain Remaudière.

While nothing is clear just yet, sources suggest that it's going to be tight: while it will take a few weeks to arrive at a common denomination (also currency conversions apparently -- one of the bids had values in at least three currencies), sources indicate that the apparent difference between the two offers is thin, not as much as had been widely predicted (India's Mint business daily quotes a source with "direct knowledge of the matter" that Dassault's bid was "marginally lower" on unit cost compared to Eurofighter's). There is, however, no official clarity on the bids, and there is unlikely to be any before a lowest bidder is made known next month. The MoD will presumably announce the lowest bidder officially.

Clearly, it's also a time ripe for reading into everything. The Pioneer newspaper suggests that a meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and French President in Cannes on the sidelines of the ongoing G20 summit, inexplicably cancelled at the last minute, suggested that France had lost the competition.

EADS Cassidian released this statement shortly after the opening of bids: Our offer for India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender is backed by the four Eurofighter partner nations as well as their respective aerospace and defence industries. It is competitive and designed to deliver maximum value to India. Our proposal to make India a full partner in the Eurofighter programme is fully supported by Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy.

Will update this post if/when Dassault makes a statement.

Graphic / Livefist (Cartoon images© sourced from Laurent Chassard & 0tamago)

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