Sweden’s defence minister is expected in December, to prop up Swedish firm SAAB’s bid with its Gripen fighter aircraft. French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev are also slated to visit India in the same month.
A downselect from the six aircraft in the fray is likely only around February. The competing aircraft are the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the F-16 Super Viper (Boeing and Lockheed Martin, both of the US), the Russian MiG-35, the Dassault Aviation’s Rafale (France), Sweden’s Gripen, and European Consortium EADS’ Eurofighter Typhoon that is being promoted in India by Germany and the UK.
British defence secretary Liam Fox is scheduled to visit Delhi on Monday and Tuesday “to take forward the broad-based cooperation in the defence sector envisaged by the Prime Ministers of the two countries at their meeting earlier this year”, a UK high commission statement said today.
He will also visit Cassidian’s Delhi office to discuss and promote the Eurofighter Typhoon’s bid. Cassidian is the new name of the defence and security division of EADS.
EADS has been promoting the Typhoon as not only a state-of-the-art aircraft but also suggesting a “partnership” that will bolster India’s diplomatic ties with the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy.
The statement said that together with Indian defence minister A.K. Antony, Fox “will provide senior political leadership to the bilateral defence relationship. This will ensure that the defence aspects of the new UK-India enhanced partnership play their rightful, central role”.