New Delhi: The last mile determines whether eventually you will look back with satisfaction for a job well done or regret the opportunities missed. Hence, even as the tempo has to be maintained, the strides need to acquire flexibility and imagination to tide over the last few hurdles. The chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne’s current state of mind would be a bit akin to that of a long distance runner: a combination of pleasure and determination; anticipation and anxiety.
The so-called mother of all defence deals, the MMRCA, after the selection of Dassault Aviation’s Rafale aircraft as Lowest-1 on January 31, is now in its final leg. Proving the naysayers wrong, the over half-a-decade long acquisition process is finally going to culminate into a contract for 126 fighter aircraft on ACM Browne’s watch.
“The IAF is the main driver in this project and everything is moving on track,” he says matter-of-factly in an exclusive interview to FORCE. “While I cannot discuss details of the ongoing Contract Negotiations Committee (CNC), I will only discuss the process of acquisition which has been adopted as per Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2006. The CNC is likely to wrap up all discussions in the next eight to 10 months and we will sign the contract in the financial year 2012-2013. We have made budgetary provisions for the MMRCA in this financial year.” If things move to plan, then ACM Browne would rather have the contract signed on 15 December 2012.
Surely, he would like to present the MMRCA to the IAF as a return gift on his birthday.
However, for the moment, he is conscious of what a big deal the MMRCA is going to be, not only for the IAF, but for the nation in general and the indigenous aerospace industry in particular. “MMRCA will mark a significant growth in terms of aviation production portfolio of Indian companies right up to the component level,” he says, referring to the inflow of key technologies into India once the process of license-production of the fighter starts.