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Path clear for Rafale fighter deal: Antony


India’s hunt for acquisition of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) is coming to a close with the defence ministry giving the  green signal to the evaluation process that led to selection of the French Rafale fighter. The plane was chosen as it was the lowest bidder on the basis of its lifecycle cost and technology transfer. The total deal is worth $20 billion (Rs 1.12 lakh crore) with options for further purchases.


Replying to a letter written on February 27, 2012 by TDP Rajya Sabha member MV Mysura Reddy alleging manipulation of the MMRCA evaluation process, defence minister AK Antony said: "The issues raised by you were examined by independent monitors who have concluded that the approach and methodology adopted by the Contract Negotiations Committee (CNC) in the evaluation of the commercial proposals thus far, have been reasonable and appropriate and within the terms of the Request for Proposals (RFR) and Defence Procurement Procedure, 2006."


The Indian Air Force on January 31 had declared Rafale as the preferred bidder, overriding the claims of the multi-nation Eurofighter. According to negotiations, 18 Rafale fighters will arrive in India from mid-2015, with another 108 to be built in India under collaboration.


As reported in the Hindustan Times, Reddy had written to Antony stating: "The alleged manipulation of the evaluation process in picking the (Rafale), which resulted in the decision to procure 126 MMRCA has raised serious apprehensions not only across the country but also worldwide. If a proper decision is not taken, the country's credibility will be at stake."


Two days later, Antony ordered an inquiry into all the points raised by Reddy.


Talking to HT after receiving Antony's final response on Monday evening in Hyderabad, Reddy said he was not satisfied with the reply. "I will wait for the report after the defence ministry has examined the finalised CNC recommendations as promised by the defence minister," he said.


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