The $20 Billion Dogfight for an Indian Air Force Contract
It flies at over 1,500 miles per hour and has been called the complete combat aircraft.
But India doesn’t want it.
The consortium behind the Eurofighter, Typhoon, was ready for take off last month on an air defense contract worth $20 billion.
That was until French company, Dassault, swooped in and beat them to it, winning the chance to sell 126 of their Rafale aircrafts.
But the consortium – made up of the German and Spanish branches of EADS, Britain’s BAE Systems, and Italy’s Finmeccanica – haven’t yet had their hopes grounded.
This week, BAE’s CEO, Ian King, said “all options are still on the table,” suggesting the price for the Eurofighter contract may come down.
IHS Jane’s consultant, Endre Lunde, says France may still have the edge, with the transfer of nuclear technology between them and India perhaps the most crucial part of the deal:
“France, with its experience in this field, could be very important to them in terms of helping to develop that technology, developing that capability and not least building this in India. So both on a civilian side and a defense side, I think there’s significant potential to develop the relationship between India and France further.”
Precedent is not on the French side however.
The Rafale has lost a series of contests to U.S. competition, while in 2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy prematurely announced that a sale of Rafales to Brazil was imminent, only to see talks drag on for another two years. Lunde says:
“France has been close before and it hasn’t turned out in the end, one example being the UAE, which was predicted to be a customer of the Rafale. That fell through and it’s now in negotiations with the Eurofighter.”
So although the French may have India’s fighter contract in its sights, the dogfight over who will ultimately prevail could produce more twists.