The Indian Air Force has provided a two month extension on responses to the request for information (RFI) on its ambitious 12,000 crore Avro replacement programme that envisages the acquisition of 56 aircraft of the same class.
Earlier this month, in a separate development, Defence Minister A.K. Antony ordered the Ministry to take a relook at the stipulations of the RFI—which essentially keeps HAL out of the competition by requiring a private sector production agency—after Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel raised objections to this in a formal letter. Top Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources informs SP's that while a review is in progress, it will not impact the long-term process on the deal, since the platform supplier will be from abroad anyway, one among five suppliers who have received the tender document. Competitors will include the Airbus C295, Alenia C-27J Spartan, Antonov An-148 and perhaps two other aircraft. It is highly likely that the competition will be a toss-up between Airbus and Alenia.