NEW DELHI: India is all set to spend $20 billion on a massive defence deal by re-inviting global aviation manufacturers to compete to produce fighter jets in India under the government’s “strategic partnership” policy.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) issued a preliminary global tender or RFI (request for information) on Friday to acquire 110 fighter jets, of which 85% are to be built in India with a domestic strategic partner. The aircraft manufacturers will submit their proposals in the deal that stipulates that 75% of the fighters will be single-seat jets, by July 3.
The process of submission of bids, evaluations and field trials will take some years, but the IAF aims to set up a second fighter manufacturing line in India to supplement the long-delayed production of indigenous Tejas jets.
The IAF has just 31 fighter squadrons (each with 18 jets) although it says it needs 42 to counter what it considers a threat from its neighbours Pakistan and China. The IAF’s old MiG-21s and MiG-27s will be retired by 2022.
The six contenders are the F/A-18 ‘Super Hornet’ and F-16 ‘Super Viper’ (US), Gripen-E (Sweden), MiG-35 (Russia), Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale.