Indian Air Force begins process to procure 110 fighter jets

Posted April 07, 2018

A request for information (RFI) posted on the IAF website called for proposals for supplying 110 fighters, of which 75 per cent (82-83 fighters) would be single-seat variants, while the remaining 27-28 would be twin-seat variants.

This will be followed by a request for proposal (RFP) or a formal tender, to be followed by evaluations, technical trials and commercial negotiations.

Major aircraft producers like U.S. firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Sweden's Saab and France's Dassault Aviation are likely to play a bid for a deal worth $ 15 billion.

In an effort to bolster the dwindling fighter aircraft fleet, the Defence Ministry on Friday floated a global tender or request for information (RFI) for 110 jets. "The procurement should have a maximum of 15 per cent aircraft in flyaway condition and 85 per cent will be manufactured in India under "Make in India", news agency ANI reported. The multi-role combat aircraft will be expected to fulfil roles that include establishing air superiority, perform air defence and air to surface operations, conduct reconnaissance, undertake maritime operations, and electronic warfare capable among other attributes. Many of these are the Russian-made MiG aircraft which have been the backbone of the Indian Air Force for decades.

The RFI comes in the backdrop of the ongoing procurement of Rafale fighter jets from France and a delayed induction of the home-made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.

The OEM will also be responsible for training of air crew and maintenance personnel at suitable facilities to enable quick absorption of the aircraft and its technology by the IAF and SP/IPA. The deal will be with the government's Make in India initiative.

Instead, the NDA government, in September 2016, signed an Euro 7.87 billion (approx Rs 59,000 crore) deal with the French government for purchase of 36 Rafale twin-engine fighter jets.

"The two aircraft have been positioned complementarily, and the purchase of the pair is an interesting proposition for policymakers from both countries", US-based think-tank Atlantic Council said in a report released in New Delhi yesterday.

India earlier scrapped a deal to buy 126 fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA and opted to import 36 Rafale aircraft.