Published: Mon, April 09, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Indian Air Force begins process to procure 110 fighter jets

Indian Air Force begins process to procure 110 fighter jets

India seems to have relented on the clause of "Make in India" for the Rafale deal.

Earlier, the defence ministry had sought expressions of interest from single-engine manufacturers which effectively restricted the contest to Lockheed's F-16 and Saab's Gripen fighter jets.

India is seeking to buy around 110 fighter jets, the air force said in a request for information issued on Friday, marking the first step toward a long-delayed deal that could be worth more than $15 billion.

"After the AoN comes, we could either opt for a government-to-government deal or put out a tender".

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"85 per cent will have to be made in India by a Strategic Partne/Indian Production Agency", the Air Force said. Many of these are the Russian-made MiG aircraft which have been the backbone of the Indian Air Force for decades. The purchase has been controversial, with the opposition claiming the government paid too much for the fighters, although the government says the scrapped 2012 deal isn't comparable to the new one.

Consequently, improving Indias capacity to play a stronger role in the region would play a critical role in the USA grand strategy, the think-tank said. "Both options are open at this stage", said a senior officer familiar with the matter on condition of anonymity.

The F-16s and the F/A-18 Super Hornets manufactured in India would not be sold to the USA, it said. PM's friends race to tie up STRATEGIC partners.

Despite the shift of production lines, there is a considerable work-share component in the proposals by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which would present a reasonable case for setting up production lines in India, despite the obvious hindrances that such an operation would ordinarily pose for a foreign investor, the think-tank added. The IAF was keen on a follow-on order of 36 additional Rafales.

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It may be noted that the IAF is fighting a depleting squadron strength. against a sanctioned strength of 42, the IAF has an operational strength of about 31.

At present, the IAF has 32 squadrons (one squadron has 18-20 planes) while it needs at least 45 squadrons of fighter jets as numerous existing fighter jets in the IAF inventory like MIG-21 and MIG-27s are in the last stages of their operational life.

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

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