A series of 41 cables between 1974 and 1976 give glimpses into the “fighter sweepstakes” in India, with one wryly observing that the Swedish company had “understood the importance of family influences in the final decision in the fighter sweepstakes.”
Dassault, the French aircraft maker, too had figured this out. According to the cable, their negotiator for the Mirage fighter aircraft was the son-in-law of Air Marshal O.P. Mehra, then Air Chief.
SION NOT TO PURCHASE BRITISH JAGUAR BECAUSE OF HER PREJUDICES AGAINST BRITISH. DECISION WOULD BE BETWEEN MIRAGE AND VIGGEN. THE SWEDISH DIPLOMAT SAID THAT SWEDEN’S NEUTRAL POSITION IN WORLD POLI- TICS IS OFFSETTING VIGGEN’S HIGHER COST. HE EXPRESSED IRRITATION AT THE WAY MRS. GANDHI IS PERSONALLY DOMINATING NE- GOTIATIONS, WITHOUT INVOLVEMENT OF INDIAN AIR FORCE OFFICERS. 3. ACCORDING TO SWEDISH EMBOFF, NEGOTIATIONS WITH SWEDES ARE FOR 50 VIGGEN AIRCRAFT TO BE DELIVERED AT $4-5 MILLION PER AIRCRAFT* SWEDES BELIEVE INDIANS HAVE MADE DECISION NOT TO PURCHASE ANY MORE SOVIET MILITARY AIRCRAFT. 4. DAO COMMENT: DAO HAS NO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION TO EITHER REFUTE OR CONFIRM THE ABOVE INFORMATION. SAXBE CONFIDENTIAL NNN”