India began its search for new fighters for the Indian Air Force in 2003 to replace its Soviet-era MiGs, but since the acquisition process has been delayed for years the service is now short of hundreds of planes
On Apr. 6, 2018 India has issued a request for information (RFI) for 110 fighter aircraft. As expected, the competition is opened to both single and twin-engine fighters.
One of the requirements is for 85 percent of the number of aircraft to be made in India by a Strategic Partner/Indian Production Agency.
According Reuters, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Saab and Dassault Aviation are among the manufacturers expected to compete.
Lockheed Martin has offered to move its F-16 production line in Fort Worth, Texas, to India and make it the only plant worldwide to produce the F-16 for not only India but also other countries, said Vivek Lall, vice president, strategy and business development at Lockheed Martin. As we have previously explained the company in fact thinks that the F-16 is the perfect aircraft to meet the country requirement for a new fighter to modernize its aging military fleet of about 650 planes.
Lockheed Martin has teamed with India’s Tata Advanced Systems to build the planes locally while Sweden’s Saab has entered into a partnership with the Adani Group, a resources conglomerate. The other contenders have not announced their local partners.
The Eurofighter Typhoon and Russian aircraft are also potential contenders under the new requirements.
Earlier, the defense ministry had sought expressions of interest from single-engine manufacturers which effectively restricted the contest to Lockheed’s F-16 and Saab’s Gripen fighter jets.
However, given the latest flip-flop in policy that has delayed the acquisition process for years and left the air force short of hundreds of planes, in February the government asked the service to open up the competition to twin-engined aircraft.
Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb / U.S. Air Force and Crown Copyright
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