India to buy over 100 new fighter jets in world's largest deal

Indian Air Force to procure over 100 jets in world's biggest deal

The RFI, which seeks information from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on the specifications of the aircraft, is for the single as well as twin-engine fighters.

"The procurement should have a maximum of 15% aircraft in flyaway state and the remaining 85% aircraft will have to be made in India" in collaboration with a strategic partner or an Indian production agency, the statement added.

American aerospace and defence major Lockheed Martin has welcomed Indias mega procurement initiative for fighter jets worth over Dollars 15 billion and said that it looks forward to responding to the initial tender.

Officials said the jets will be produced jointly by a foreign aircraft maker along with an Indian company under the recently-launched strategic partnership model which aims to bring in high-end defence technology to India.

In the event of the deal, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Saab and Dassault are expected to join other military aircraft manufacturer companies.

A Request for Information- the first step of the tedious procurement process- for 110 fighters was issued by the IAF on Friday.

The proposal is to procure 110 fighter jets and over 90 will be manufactured in India, according to the RFI issued.




Nevertheless, this latest effort to get fighter jets is of immediate importance to the IAF, which now has a strength of 31 fighter squadrons (each of 18 jet planes), when it actually requires 42 to tackle the threat emanating from Pakistan and China.

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

File picture shows a Dassault Rafale combat aircraft performing during the inauguration ceremony of "Aero India 2013" at Yelahanka air force station on the outskirts of Bengaluru, India, February 6, 2013.

Instead, Modi's government in September 2016 purchased 36 ready-to-fly nuclear-capable Rafale fighter jets directly from the French government.

"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.

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