"As the decade-stretched competition plods toward a decision, tentatively scheduled in the next few months, the near unanimous sense -- from rumours, reports, leaks, hearsay, background briefings -- is that the big European twins, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon -- are the IAF's two most preferred aircraft, and in that order"
IAF ranking would thus be : Rafale >> Eurofighter >> Gripen >> F-18E >> F-16I >> Mig-35
If true, this would be a tremendous victory for the Rafale, as a fighter jet, because the MoD insists on the fact that the selection process has been 100% professional and independant from external pressures :
"There is no political pressure. This is such a large deal that it is apt for showcasing the excellent and professional job India has done in making an informed decision which is independent of any factors, including strategic and geopolitical. The air force is the customer, not the Ministry of External Affairs."
This sounds like a warning shot to the US manufacturers which are usually keen to put all the diplomatic weight of the White House in their bids.
However, it remains to be seen if the recent blacklisting by the IAF of the Dassault representative in India will affect the Rafale status for the last stage of the contest. . Also, it is now most probably, that Dassault will be the target of all the other contenders.... 3 of them being huge defense conglomerates that are not famous for their fair play.
Another card that France and Dassault may play to secure the deal, would be to link the Mirage 2000 upgrade with the MMRCA. After the failure of the Mirage 2000 bid back in 2001, such a proposal has been pushed by the French several times without success as India would rather keep the 2 project (Mirage 2000 retrofit and MMRCA) separated.
Anyway, With the Rafale brilliantly demonstrating its multirole capabilies daily in Libya while the Eurofighter has merely a token role, this remains a very good news for Dassault 3 months before the 49th Paris Air Show (June 20th to 26th).