Hoping to finalise the multi-billion dollar combat aircraft deal by the year-end, Indian Air Force on Thursday said the commercial bids of two short-listed vendors in the MMRCA tender would be opened by middle of next month.

“We have a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council on October 7 where some of the issues are going to be discussed. Once those issued are cleared, hopefully by the middle of month, we should be in a position to open the bids,” Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said in New Delhi.

He was asked to comment on the acquisition schedule of these aircraft which are expected to be inducted in the IAF by 2014.

Air Chief Marshal Browne was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Sixth International Conference on Energising Indian Aerospace Industry organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Earlier, addressing the conference, the IAF Chief said, “We are in final stages of this process (of signing the contract for MMRCA) and (it will be done) hopefully by the end of the year.”

On the offset value of the deal, he said, “Offsets for this programme amount to Rs. 20,000 crore plus and these are going to be in service for over a period of 13 years.”

To a query on comparison between Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and MMRCA, he said, “These are two different kinds of aeroplanes. MMRCA does not have stealth features and super cruise capability while FGFA has all that.”

FGFA has recess armament base where all the missiles and weapons are located inside the aircraft, which gives it a certain amount of stealth potential, he said.

India is developing the FGFA as a joint venture with Russia.

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