Saab has announced that its Gripen fighter has not been shortlisted by India for the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract. The Indian defence ministry has informed the Swedish manufacturer of its decision, but has yet to formally announce which aircraft remain in contention for the proposed 126-aircraft deal.

Local reports indicate that the shortlist includes at least the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. The status of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-16IN and RSK MiG-35 bids is not clear.

Although the single-engine Gripen did not make the shortlist, Saab has not completely given up on the India's pending order.

"We will closely monitor the future process and provide additional information if requested by the Indian Ministry of Defense," says chief executive Håkan Bushke. "We are committed to the Indian market and continue our plans for growth and see huge business opportunities in the aerospace, defence and security sectors," he adds.

Gripen pair - Jamie Hunter Saab 
© Jamie Hunter/Saab
India had been offered the growth version of the Saab Gripen (bottom)

New Delhi's decision is a huge blow to the future of the Gripen. Saab is currently searching for more export orders. The next generation version of the fighter, with a more powerful engine, active electronically scanned array radar and greater fuel capacity, is competing for Brazil's F-X2 contract against the Rafale and the Super Hornet.

India's shortlist for the next phase of the MMRCA competition has been anticipated ever since the six competitors submitted proposals last July.

The competition has stressed meeting the Indian air force's operational requirements with the greatest amount of technology transfer possible.

Source: Flight International