IAI forced to withdraw support for Gripen's Indian bid

Tel Aviv
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The USA forced Israel Aerospace Industries to withdraw a proposal to supply an advanced radar to Saab as part of the Swedish company's effort to win a fighter contest in India potentially worth $12 billion.

Sources in Israel said on 5 July that Saab had wanted to offer a radar from IAI subsidiary Elta Systems as part of its Gripen NG proposal for the Indian air force's medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal, as New Delhi is already familiar with systems supplied by the Israeli firm. The contract is for at least 126 aircraft.

 
© Gripen International

While the USA has claimed that the Gripen has only a "very limited" chance of being selected, the possible inclusion of an Israeli radar would have allowed New Delhi to push down the price of rival offers to supply either the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet or the Lockheed Martin F-16, the sources add.

Other contenders for the MMRCA contract are the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and RSK MiG-35.

The Israeli defence ministry and IAI have refused to comment on the report, but Saab-led Gripen International confirms that "Israel was one of several options" assessed for the radar element of its bid for the Indian requirement. The Swedish manufacturer has already confirmed its intention to allow India to conduct a flight evaluation of its Gripen Demo airframe equipped with a Vixen 1000E/ES05 Raven active electronically scanned array radar from Finmeccanica company Selex Galileo, and has approvals in place to export the system to India, and other potential Gripen buyers Brazil and Switzerland.

Washington's pressure is not the first example of it forcing the Israeli defence industry to back away from major contracts. IAI several years ago had to cancel a deal to supply China with Phalcon-type airborne early warning systems.

Additional reporting by Craig Hoyle