India Floats Multibillion-Dollar Global Tender for 110 Fighter Aircraft

Indian fighter jets
Indian Air Force begins process to buy 110 fighter jets REUTERS Vijay Mathur

08 April, 2018

The Rafale, manufactured by French company Dassault Aviation, is a twin-engine delta-wing multi-role jet fighter. An RFI (Request for Information) or initial tender for the mega deal was issued by the Indian Air Force and the procurement will be in sync with the Government's "Make in India" initiative in the defence sector, officials said. "The proposal is to procure approximately 110 fighter aircraft (about 75% single-seat and rest twin-seat)", the statement said. India asked global companies to submit proposals for 110 fighter jets, the world's biggest such order now.

Meanwhile, the new development has come as a rude awakening to American firm Lockheed Martin and Swedish company Saab, which were keenly anticipating a tender specifically for single-engine fighter jets making the F-16 and Gripen the front-runners in the deal estimated to be worth at least $10 billion.

"85 per cent will have to be made in India by a Strategic Partne/Indian Production Agency", the Air Force said. IAF intends to use the aircraft as day and night -capable, all-weather, multi-role combat aircraft.

According to the RFI, 15% of the aircraft will be bought in a flyaway state, and the rest will have to be made locally.

IAF officer
Indian Air Force begins process to buy 110 fighter jets Getty Images

The IAF is in urgent need of new fighter jets as its operational strength has depleted with just 31 squadrons, as against the 42 it needs to counter the combined threat from Pakistan and China. However, the government is yet to take a decision on it. The deal could be worth as much as $15 billion, Bloomberg reported, quoting an analyst.

"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.

India seems to have relented on the clause of "Make in India" for the Rafale deal. U.S. aerospace major Lockheed Martin has joined hands with India's Tata Advanced Systems to build the planes in India. Each squadron has 18-20 fighter jets numerous squadrons are not full strength.

During French President Emanuel Macron's visit to India last month, an additional 36 Rafale righter jets were proposed to the Indian government; the ministry of defence is now reviewing the offer.

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