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  • India's MMRCA Decision: Reading the Tea Leaves
    Posted by Robert Wall 9:57 AM on Apr 28, 2011

    There are certainly a fair number of surprises in India's decision to shortlist only the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale in the MMRCA fighter competition to build at least 126 aircraft to replace the MiG-21.

    That Rafale and Typhoon have made the cut is perhaps no surprise, Indian officials have long indicated they liked how the two aircraft performed and have shown a preference for the so called big twins.

    More surprising, though, is that only two aircraft made the cut. The guessing game had thought the final round would still include three or four platforms.

    The Indian decision is a clear setback for Washington. The U.S. administration had heavily lobbied India on behalf of the F/A-18 and F-16. It offered technology transfer to an extensive scale. While Pakistan's use of the F-16 made an F-16I downselect a long-shot, not seeing either of the U.S. contenders at least in the final round may be a political signal from New Delhi.

    The decision, of course, does not mean the U.S. is entirely out of the Indian fighter market. As before, there remains speculation India may yet opt for the F/A-18E/F for a future carrier-borne strike mission.

    The decision is clearly excellent news for Paris and London (although the India campaign has been nominally led by Germany, British officials have more than done their part to bolster the effort) and their stated desire to more robustly support defense exports at a time of declining spending back home.

    Tags: ar99, India, Rafale, Typhoon, tacair

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