Indian MoD Issues RFI to Procure 110 Fighter Jets

IAF desperately needs to increase its squadron strength to ensure a credible deterrence

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.

A Request for Information (RFI) was issued on Friday for the procurement stating that majority of these will be indigenously made in collaboration with foreign manufacturers under the strategic partnership model and the "Make in India" policy. "The proposal is to procure approximately 110 fighter aircraft (about 75% single-seat and rest twin-seat)", the statement said. The new aircraft are meant to replace the IAF's MiG21 jets.

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. As mentioned on the website of Defence Ministry, at least 85% of the jets are made in India, boosting PM Narendra Modi's initiative to localise production. IAF intends to use the aircraft as day and night -capable, all-weather, multi-role combat aircraft. The remaining 93-94 aircraft must be built in India by a "strategic partner/Indian production agency (SP/IPA)".




"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. If the present situation continues and older aircraft are phased out at the planned rate, then by 2027, the IAF could be left with just 19 fighter squadrons. He was referring to the 2015 decision to buy Rafale fighter jets in a government-to-government deal, after cancelling the tender for 126 fighters under the MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) deal.

The IAF that is operating with only 33 fighter squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42 will be further reduced to only 16 by 2032 and 19 by 2027. The first lot of planes manufactured by Dassault of France will join IAF in 2019 and the entire Rafale fleet is likely to be operational by 2021. Instead, the NDA government had signed a deal of 7.87 billion euros (about Rs 59,000 crore) with the French government to purchase 36 Rafael Double-engine fighter planes in September 2016.

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