n Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Norman Browne considers the sale of to a done deal and expects to see the first 18 fighters in his bases as soon as possible. “The is very much on track. The Contract Negotiation Committee process is currently on. I expect contract negotiations to be complete by April/May this year. We should be in a position to sign the contract by the end of the year” said at his press conference at the Aero India show yesterday.
By April or May the contract should move to the next stage, including a crucial review by the ministry of finance. “If all goes well by the middle of the year we will be in a position to sign the contract,” he says. “There are no shortcuts to this process.” Due to the scale and high visibility of the program, the acquisition process is being followed extremely carefully in the’s case.
He said that the contract negotiations are taking almost a year now, since February 2012, but pointed out that another contract for the upgrading of IAF’s Mirage 2000 had taken more than two years. Browne hopes thenegotiations wouldn’t take as long. Browne did not take a stand in the debate about the workshare part in the negotiations between MOD and Dassault. “Our interest is with the direct supply of 18 aircraft. The other 108 will be license produced by HAL. Dassault is free to choose production partners in India and abroad for kits. But these kits finally have to go to HAL for license production. We don’t get into that. That isn’t our concern.” Brown stated.Through the contract negotiations Dassault has pushed to move a substantial proportion of the work-share to its joint venture with Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries while MOD insists on having HAL the prime contractor for the local production of up to 180 aircraft.
Three French air forces attended this year’s show, with two performing flight displays and one appearing on the static line.