The Defence Ministry has suggested that the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. would be the lead integrator for producing 108 multi-role combat aircraft in the country after French firm Dassault Aviation sought to play a bigger role in the multi-billion dollar project.
"The role of HAL is already defined in the Request for Proposal for the MMRCA project. It says that the main body, aero-engines, air frame and the integration shall be done by the HAL," Secretary (Defence Production) R K Mathur said on Monday at the Aero India 2013 press conference here.
The top official in the Department of Defence Production was asked to clarify on the role of the HAL in the project in view of the demand made by Dassault Aviation.
Dassault, which has bagged the IAF deal for supplying 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft, has asked the Ministry to define the role of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. in the project.
As per the tender, first 18 of the 126 aircraft are to be supplied by Rafale from its facilities and the rest 108 are to be license produced and integrated by the HAL at its facilities here.
If any company other than HAL is designated as the integrator, it would be deviation from the tender issued for the project and as per the Defence Procurement Procedure, it will have to be approved by the Defence Acquisition Council, Defence Ministry sources said.
In view of this, the Ministry has decided that it will stick to the clauses of the tender issued in 2007, they said.
The Ministry is expected to convey its decision on the issue to the French firm during the negotiations on the deal beginning next week.
Soon after Dassault was declared as the lowest bidder for the MMRCA deal piping EAD's Eurofighter, it signed an agreement with a Reliance Industries Ltd. company for working together in the defence sector.
The French firm is currently negotiating the deal with the Defence Ministry and the Indian Air Force.