|Mr Bonnafont (Left) meets|
Indu : In the joint statement, it was mentioned that the contract for the much-delayed upgrade of the Indian Air Force's Mirage-2000 aircraft would be inked soon. It's five months since.
J.B : Commercial negotiations are always long; there are so many things to agree upon. It's very complex. It has to go through many processes, so it takes time. But we're hopeful it'll be completed soon.
Indu : In a major step in the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) procurement process, India has shortlisted from six contenders the French Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon, asking them to renew their commercial bids. The process has had many twists and turns from the time the Request for Proposal went out with speculative stories doing the rounds, MMRCA files going for jaunts and the like. How do you view the latest development?
J.B : At this stage, I'll be extremely sober and quick in my answer. Rafale is an exceptional plane which is in operation in many significant fields of operation showing its performance there. We're very satisfied that it is allowed to continue in the race. The French government is giving 100 per cent support to Dassault and for the continuation of its discussions with the Government of India.
Indu : Is there a Navy angle to the MMRCA competition? While Rafale boasts a naval variant, the Typhoon naval version is under development. Would there be a French pitch if the Indian Navy sought to buy a new carrier-borne fighter?
J.B : I'm not going to elaborate on that.
This last cursory reply alone tells a lot about how cautious (paranoiac ?) the French are regarding the MMRCA. Yet, Everybody will have understood that the "Navy angle of the MMRCA" will most likely play a significant role in the indian final choice. Similarly, EADS strong advertising for its Typhoon N at the last aero India air show was certainly not innocent...