In recent years, the world’s oldest democracy has been reaching out to the world’s largest. This may prove whether or not the dance has legs:
Six international companies have submitted bids for a contract potentially worth more than $10 billion to build 126 multirole fighter jets, the Indian ministry of defense said. The international companies offered their proposals on the last day of bidding, a ministry spokesman said. The list of bidders will be reduced to two or three before a final decision is made, the spokesman said. The bidders include Lockheed and Boeing of the United States, MIG of Russia, Dassault of France, Saab of Sweden and European Aeronautic Defense and Space, the consortium that makes the Typhoon.
India’s front line fighter fleet consists largely of SU-30MK’s from the Former Soviet Union, so the Russian manufacturer may well have the inside track (although Mig and Sukhoi are at least theoretically competitors). Other horses in the stable are the French Dassault Mirage 2000 and the venerable (read: old) Anglo-Frenche SEPECAT Jaguar. Notably absent are any US-made fighters, although neighboring Pakistan operates the F-16.
Back in the day, Finland kept it’s paw in the non-aligned patch by buying MiG-21′s from the USSR, Saab Drakkens from Sweden, BAe Hawks as trainers from the UK and FA-18′s from the US. It will be interesting for US industry to see whether India will go that route – $10 billion is a lot of money.
?Ä propos of nothing at all, one quarter of the Indian population falls below the government threshold for poverty, living on less than 40 cents per day.