India seeks US$15b fighter jets in world's largest deal

Indian Air Force to Conduct its Biggest Exercise'Gagan Shakti Along Pakistan and China Border

The tender is for single and double engine jets.

The fresh efforts for procuring fighters could pit single and twinengine aircraft against one another, as the defence ministry had asked the IAF to draw up a proposal that would include both types. The IAF issued the initial tender, known as the Request for Information, to global aircraft companies to manufacture the jets along with an Indian partner.

According to the Indian Air Force, "85 percent will have to be made in India by a Strategic Partner/Indian Production Agency".

Leading foreign defence hardware manufacturers like SAAB of Sweden, Lockheed Martin and Boeing of the United States, Dassault of France, MiG of Russian Federation and the European consortium Eurofighter are expected to compete for the deal that is eventually expected to cost upwards of about 15 billion dollars.

According to the RFI, around 75% of the aircraft will be single-seat ones.

"The aircraft are intended as day-and-night-capable, all-weather, multi-role combat aircraft" which can be used for air defence, reconnaissance, maritime, electronic warfare as well as refuelling missions, the statement said.

"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.

"The F-16 remains the only aircraft programme in this competition with the proven performance and industrial scale to meet Indias operational needs and Make in India priorities including unmatched export opportunities", he said.

Each squadron has 18 jets.

The Air Force is banking on Rafale, Sukhoi 30s and indigenous Tejas and now with the process for 110 new fighters starting hoping to fill the critical gap at the earliest. These 110 fighters will be in addition to the 36 Rafales.

"Even in the most optimistic scenario, it is going to take at least four to five years for the process to reach some logical conclusion, by then our fighters' strengths would have further fallen", an IAF officer said.

Instead, the National Democratic Alliance (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.

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