Indian MoD Issues RFI to Procure 110 Fighter Jets

Posted April 08, 2018

During French President Emanuel Macron's visit to India in March, there were speculations that India would initiate deal for 36 more Rafale fighter jets.

Meanwhile, the Indian Defence Ministry announced on Friday that an all-encompassing coordinated and composite exercise will be held by the Indian Air Force from April 8-22 to test coordination, deployment and employment of air power in a short and intense battle scenario. The RFI spelt out that a maximum of 16 flyaway aircraft would be purchased from the global manufacturer and the rest are to be made in India under a strategic partnership model. In what reiterates the government's commitment to Make in India, 85 per cent of the 110 fighters will be made in India.

Leading military aircraft producers, including USA firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Sweden's Saab and France's Dassault Aviation, are among those likely to vie for the mega deal. 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. Though the RFI said approximately 110 aircraft are being procured, Defence Ministry officials put the number at 114 jets. As regards the capabilities of the jet, the tender stipulates that the plane should be able to perform roles like air superiority, air defence, air to surface operations and reconnaissance.

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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. The IAF was keen on a follow-on order of 36 additional Rafales.

The Indian Air Force was pressing the government to start the procurement process because of its depleting strength of fighter squadron.

Indias latest hunt for over 100 fighter jets is the first mega procurement initiative for fighter jets after the government scrapped the process to acquire 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the IAF around five years ago.

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India was revising the specifications to allow manufacturers such as Boeing Co. and United Aircraft Corp.to pitch their twin-engine combat aircraft in the deal, people familiar with the matter said in February.

Currently, the IAF has 31 fighter squadrons as against authorised strength of 42 squadrons.

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