The Ministry of Defence on Wednesday asked European consortium's Eurofighter and French Dassault's Rafale to extend the commercial bids for the 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft that are due to expire on Thursday.
The move could be interpreted as 'down selection' from six competitors in the Rs. 45,000- crore deal that is expected to be finalised this fiscal.
Sources in the government told The Hindu that the Ministry despatched the letter, based on the Technical Evaluation Committee's report.
The commercial bids, which were re-submitted last year by the competitors, need to be extended. Once the bids are opened, the cost negotiation committee would start work.
The calculation would also have to factor in the steep offset clause as determined by the Defence Procurement Policy.
As per the terms of the deal, the competitors would have to show that they have the requisite tie-ups to fulfil the 50-per cent offset clause, which means that half of the value of the deal would have be sourced from Indian companies.
The Indian Air Force had handed over its report to the Ministry last year after rigorous and
extensive flight evaluation trials of the six fighter planes bidding for the deal.
Besides Eurofighter and Rafale, the others in the race are American companies Lockheed Martin (F-16IN Super Viper) and Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), Swedish SAAB Gripen NG and Russian Mikoyan MiG35.
The sources said the Ministry's team undertook an elaborate exercise to determine the offset obligations of the competitors, and once the task was complete, the next stage would be determined on the basis of the technical evaluation.
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