But India has narrowed the bid to the French and the British:
The United States lost a hard-fought competition to supply a new generation of fighter jets to India, which has listed two European manufacturers as the finalists for an order estimated to be worth $10 billion.I'm not sure what the calculus here.
The decision was a blow for President Obama, who had pushed hard for this and other defense deals during his visit to India in November as part of his agenda to deepen and broaden the United States’ relationship with India. The American ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, who separately announced on Thursday that he would resign from his post for personal reasons, said the United States was “deeply disappointed by this news.”
While political and economic relations between India and the United States have been warming for years, American arms makers have struggled to win big contracts here. After decades of frosty relations during the cold war, which pushed India to rely extensively on the Soviet Union for military hardware, many in the Indian defense establishment are still wary of American intentions and United States military aid to Pakistan, India’s main adversary.
The American bid to build the fighters came from Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Boeing had offered its F/A -18 jets, and Lockheed Martin pitched its F-16 planes. But India instead narrowed the list to the Rafale fighter from Dassault and the Eurofighter Typhoon jet made by a consortium of European companies. Russian and Swedish bids were also turned down.
These aircraft are clearly more capable in terms of payload and range than the Rafale (which is the light weight of the bunch) and the F-16, and faster than the F-18 (so is just about everything flying with an afterburner), and likely more reliable than the MiG.
My handicapping of the race? I think that Dassault is desperate for an export sale, and so will be willing to take a hit up front, and when this is juxtaposed with the fact that the IAF already has experience operating the Mirage 2000, I would give it a slight edge.