Saturday, April 3, 2010

Indian Air Force gives Gripen NG Fighter a Second Chance

Sweden’s futuristic medium fighter, the Gripen NG, has been given a second chance in the $11 billion contest to select a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has asked Gripen International, which last month failed to send the Gripen NG fighter for trials in India on the dates allotted by the IAF, to send the fighter for trials in the middle of May.Business Standard had reported, on March 9, that Gripen International had sent older Gripen-D fighters for trials because the Gripen NG was held back in Sweden for improvements for the Swedish Air Force. Technically, that was a violation of the terms of the competition.But senior IAF officers have told Business Standard that they would not allow a legalistic interpretation of rules to narrow their options. Explains a senior air marshal who is involved in the decision-making, “We have a time window until the middle of this year, during which each of the six fighters in the tender are undergoing three stages of trials and inspections. As long as the Gripen NG is ready for trials within that period, we will evaluate the aircraft. All six vendors will have a level-playing field”.Besides the Gripen NG, the other fighters being evaluated by the IAF are — the F/A-18 Super Hornet; the F-16IN Super Viper; the Dassault Rafale; the Eurofighter Typhoon; and the MiG-35. While all but the MiG-35 are already in service, the Gripen NG is still under development. Just a single ‘demonstrator’ aircraft has been built to prove its capabilities. Next year, Gripen will build the first Gripen NG prototype.....................................................Business-Standard


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