Dassault’s Rafale Back in Indian Fighter Race

he Times of India reported on
May 22 that the Dassault Rafale is back in the race for an Indian
government contract to build 126 new medium multirole combat aircraft for the country’s Air Force.
The paper said that the Rafale had been booted out of the
competition to supply the jets by the Indian Defence Ministry after
Dassault failed to respond properly in its technical bid toward the
GSQRs (general staff qualitative requirements) drawn up by the IAF. The
paper then quoted an unnamed Defense Ministry official stating that
Dassault had since supplied missing information and that the Rafale
would now participate in IAF field trials of the competitors.

There will be two sets of field trials, according to The Times. The
first set is scheduled for July and August and the second in the winter
of 2009-2010. The aircraft will be flown in the mountainous region of
Leh, the hot Rajasthan desert, and the humid region around Bangalore.

After field trials the field of six fighters- the Rafale, the Lockheed Martin F-16, the Boeing F/A-18, Saab’s Gripen, the RAC MiG MiG-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon
– will be winnowed down to a short list of three aircraft. Commercial
bids by the three remaining candidates will then be opened and
evaluated. The IAF would like the aircraft to be delivered by
2012-2013, but the evaluation and bidding process is expected to take a
minimum of two years. Under the circumstances, a contract cannot be
expected before 2011.

UAE Considering Rafale Jet Fighters
ABU DHABI, UAEs — According to UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, discussions between the UAE and France
about the possible Emirati purchase of the new generation French Rafale
jet fighter are moving ahead. Officials from the UAE made hints in 2008
that the tiny Gulf state was considering the acquisition of Rafale
fighters as a solution for the replacement of its 60 French-built Mirage combat aircraft. Such a deal is believed to be valued between EUR6-8 billion ($8-11 billion).

France, along with the U.S., is one of the UAE’s key arms suppliers.
One snag in the potential sale of the Rafale to the UAE for the French
is that any deal is likely to be precluded by the demand that France
either take back theMirage 2000-9 jets or find a suitable buyer on the
global market. France, still seeking an export market for its Dassault
Aviation aircraft, might settle for buying back the surplus Mirages in
order to achieve the sale.