The U.S., Russian and Swedish aviation companies that have been cut from the race for India’s estimated $11 billion fighter jet program say they are still keeping their options open and will request a debriefing on the decision.

French defense company Dassault Aviation SA’s Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon were the only teams shortlisted for the Indian air force’s (IAF) technical selection for the 126-fighter Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (Mmrca) program, a defense ministry official says.

“India has crossed a major milestone in the process of acquisition of the Mmrca for the IAF, the official says (Aerospace DAILY, April 28).

Rafale and Eurofighter will continue in the last leg of the tendering process that is likely to be completed by March 2012. Meanwhile, India’s defense ministry issued letters to the Eurofighter consortium and Dassault asking them to extend the validity of their bids for the contract, the Press Trust of India reports, citing company sources.

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing, which was notified that its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet proposal did not make the initial downselect, says: “We are obviously disappointed with this outcome. Our next step is to request and receive a debrief from the Indian air force. Once we have reviewed the details, we will make a decision concerning our possible options, always keeping in mind the impact to the Indian air force.”

Lockheed Martin, which offered its F-16IN Super Viper, says it “remains committed to our relationship with the Indian air force, Ministry of Defense and the other services.”

The U.S. is “deeply disappointed” after India said that Boeing and Lockheed Martin “were not selected for procurement” in the world’s biggest fighter jet order in 15 years, U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer says. However, the U.S. is “respectful of the procurement process” and will continue to “develop our defense partnership with India,” Roemer adds.

Sweden’s Saab, which offered its Gripen fighter jet, says it is willing to answer any further queries and concerns India may have about its offering to support continued participation in Mmrca.

Saab International India AB’s in-country director, Joanna Sjolander, says: “We believe that the Gripen NG meets the requirements of the Indian air force and India in creation of a strong, futuristic air force.”

The four-year contest for the Indian contract was hard fought by all six vendors. Since the 1980s, no Indian government has made an open-bid arms purchase valued at even $100 million, which is only about 1% of the fighter deal’s size.

The Mmrca program will fetch India a $5 billion investment in the form of 50% offsets, a clause that requires the winning manufacturer to invest back half the deal’s worth to energize the Indian defense industry.

To make some major defense deals, India has earmarked 692 billion rupees ($15 billion) for capital expenditure in the defense budget for 2011-12.