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Decision on M-MRCA deal will not be political

Bangalore: With countries pushing hard to support the bids of their companies in IAF`s USD 11 billion Medium-Multirole Aircraft (M-MRCA) deal, India today said the decision to award the tender will be based on merits and will not be a political one.

"The decision will be based on merit only… There will be no political decision in defence acquisition process including the M-MRCA. As far as India is concerned, there will be no political decision and interference in defence acquisition process," Defence Minister A K Antony said here.

The Minister was asked about reports suggesting that the US was asking India to award the M-MRCA contract to one of its companies in the race to pay back for its support to New Delhi at various international forums.

Two American aircraft — Lockheed Martin`s F-16 and the Boeing`s F/A-18 E/F along with European Eurofighter, Swedish Gripen, French Rafale and Russian MiG-35 are in the race for the deal for 126 fourth generation combat aircraft.

Heads of states of all the countries have visited India in the last one year and pitched for the bids submitted by their companies. The list includes US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Antony said the decision to award the contract was likely to be taken in the next fiscal.

He said in all the defence acquisition processes, the contracts would be awarded following the defence procurement procedure.

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