IAF eyes more fighter jets from foreign firms under ‘Make in India’, New deal in works

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New Delhi | Updated: Mar 12, 2018 6:08 PM

After Govt of India's deal with France to buy Rafales, the Indian Forces pushes for more fighter jets. IAF is likely to open a global tender to acquire more AMCAs to expand its existing squadron to compete with China and Pakistan.

Indian Airforce, Defence Procurement, Rafale, Gripen, Eurofighter, MiG-35, F-16, F A/18, Defexpo 2018IAF pushes for more fighter jets and is likely to open a global tender to procure technology to build AMCAs.

More fighter jets for IAF! A new global tender to build Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) fighter jets is likely to be on cards for The Indian Air Force. This new military development is an attempt to drive the Centre’s Make in India initiative as well. IAF’s new global tendering process for new AMCAs seeks to invite global defence players to not just strengthen our military capabilities, but also seeks to drive the Centre’s ambitious Make in India initiative. A report in HT has said that, just ahead of the DEFEXPO 2018 that is to be held in Chennai, the IAF may seek an RFI (Request For Information) to compare and assess and the various global players, who would be possible contenders for the tender.

The Government of India seeks to widen its project, as it has reportedly scrapped the single-engine AMCA procurement process and has now opened up the tender for twin-engines as well. The Centre’s decision to cancel SEF (Single Engine Fighter) tenders, was probably to avoid another political controversy over defence procurement, as the contest was only between Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and Saab’s Gripen. The business partner that is chosen for the new contract will be bound under contract to the transfer the new technology to India and the company shall also be responsible for the development of the existing AMCAs, the newspaper report suggests.

The race of the new tender process is likely to be among Saab’s Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, MiG-35, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F A/18 and the Dassault Rafale. Incidentally, in anticipation of the single-engine fighter jet deal, USA’s Lockheed Martin had tied up with Tata group and Sweden’s Saab had announced a venture with Adani.

While India already struck a deal for 36 Rafales with France, France the latter has also pitched for selling 36 more Rafales to India during Emmanuel Macron’s visit. Reports suggest that India on its part has said that it will consider the proposal only after the delivery of the Rafale fighter jets begins. While HAL and DRDO hope to propel India’s air power by building 5th Gen AMCA, defence experts believe that the full-scale 5th Gen AMCA project might take a decade or more to be completed. Thus, the new global tender and the RFI ahead of the DEFEXPO 2018 will prove to be a step ahead for the IAF to compete with China and Pakistan. The current existing squadron of 31 fighters jets in India lags behind PLAAF’s 60 odd fighter jets and just like more than Pakistan’s 25 fighter jets.

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