India selects European fighter jets over US competitors

A Rafale fighter jet is catapulted from France

From Rama Lakshmi, the Washignton Post:  India on Thursday said two defense contractors based in Europe are the finalists to win a $12 billion fighter jet contract for which major U.S. companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin were also competing.

An official in India’s defense ministry said that after technical assessment tests, the government had shortlisted the French company Dassault, which produces the Rafale jet, and the four-nation European consortium Eurofighter, which makes the Typhoon.

The purchase of 126 fighter aircraft has been the most sought-after global military contract in recent years. The deal was considered a potential centerpiece of the growing defense partnership between India and the United States. President Obama had personally advocated on behalf of the American companies during his visit to India last November. . . .

“I know that the aircrafts that met all the technical requirements included the American F-16,” said Pushpindar Singh Chopra, an aerospace analyst. However, he added that the Typhoon and Rafale are both new-generation aircrafts, and might come with fewer restrictions than the U.S. government would try to attach to any deal.

 “Indian military establishment has some issues with the list of do’s and don’ts that come with American military purchases,” Chopra said. “There are too many checks and reporting that the American government subjects the buyer countries to. This is a bit annoying to Indians.”

Chopra said the reluctance by the United States to include electronic warfare systems in any sale might also have been problematic. “After all, a fighter aircraft is as good as its weapons,” he said. “These probably played a part in the decision, too.”  (photo: AP)

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