Indian MoD Issues RFI to Procure 110 Fighter Jets

Casey Dawson
April 7, 2018

The Indian Air Force on Friday set in motion the process of acquiring a fleet of 110 fighter jets worth an estimated $15 billion, one of its largest orders in recent years, in a bid to shore up its fast-depleting squadron strength.

A request for information (RFI) posted on the IAF website called for proposals for supplying 110 fighters, of which 75 per cent (82-83 fighters) would be single-seat variants, while the remaining 27-28 would be twin-seat variants. That will be followed by a process - which in the past lasted several years - of issuing a formal tender, carrying out technical and flying trials, evaluating costs, reaching a discussion and then negotiating final costs with the winning vendor. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Saab and Dassault are the leading military aircraft producers that are likely to compete to vie for the mega deal. Of the 110, about 82 will be single seat aircraft while about 28 will be twin-seaters. "The procurement should have a maximum of 15 per cent aircraft in flyaway condition and 85 per cent will be manufactured in India under "Make in India", news agency ANI reported.

"The aircraft are intended as day-and-night-capable, all-weather, multi-role combat aircraft" which can be used for air defence, reconnaissance, maritime, electronic warfare as well as refuelling missions, the statement said.

Currently, the IAF has 32 combat squadrons against a sanctioned strength of 39.5, which is sought to be raised to 42.

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In the report, Indias Quest for Fighter Jets: Make in India vs Make America Great Again, it said Chinas bellicose incursions in the Indo-Pacific region are challenging United States geostrategic supremacy in the region.

The Indian Air Force and navy require as many as 400 single- and double-engine combat aircraft, according to government figures. The Asian nation had earlier scrapped a deal to buy 126 fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA, and instead opted to import 36 Rafale aircraft. The new aircraft are meant to replace the IAF's MiG21 jets. The deal will be with the government's Make in India initiative.

Noting that the US Air Force has not bought an F-16 since 1999, and is transitioning its multi-role fighter force to the F-35, the think-tank said that any additional F-16 orders would be for non-US customers.

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