Indian Air Force plan to buy 110 fighter jets takes off

The RFI requires no more than 15 per cent of the order - or 16-17 fighters - to be supplied in "flyaway" or fully-built stage.

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 Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to procure approximately 110 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.

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

The proposal is to procure 110 fighter jets and over 90 will be manufactured in India, according to the RFI issued. The aircraft should be capable of operating during daytime and nighttime and take on multi-combat roles such as reconnaissance, maritime and air defence, according to the RFI.

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The total cost of the procurement could be between $15 billion to $20 billion dollars.

The Air Force is acquiring the new fighter jets as its fleet is down to just 31 squadrons, 11 less than the minimum number of jets the Centre believes are required to tackle both Pakistan and China, The Times of India reported.

"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. The fighter jets will be jointly produced by a foreign maker in collaboration with Indian company under "Make in India" campaign. Each squadron has 18-20 fighter jets numerous squadrons are not full strength.

"The F-16 remains the only aircraft programme in this competition with the proven performance and industrial scale to meet Indias operational needs and Make in India priorities including unmatched export opportunities", he said. The force is thus in desperate need to replace its aging fighters as well as fill in for the numbers that were to be plugged by 126 Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft- of which only 36 Rafales have been ordered. 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.

  • Sonia Alvarado