India to buy over 100 new fighter jets in world's largest deal

India to buy over 100 new fighter jets in world's largest deal

India to buy over 100 new fighter jets in world's largest deal

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.

In an effort to bolster the dwindling fighter aircraft fleet, the Defence Ministry on Friday floated a global tender or request for information (RFI) for 110 jets. The RFI, which lists single as well as twin engine aircraft requirement thus opens the doors for a larger global competition, which would, in turn, translate into a modern, multirole fighter. India asked global companies to submit proposals for 110 fighter jets, the world's biggest such order now. 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. The multi-role combat aircraft will be expected to fulfil roles that include establishing air superiority, perform air defence and air to surface operations, conduct reconnaissance, undertake maritime operations, and electronic warfare capable among other attributes. According to the RFI, India intends to purchase a maximum of 15 percent of the total 110 fighters in fly away condition and manufacture the rest 85 percent under the Make in India program, the RFI issued on Friday read. The deal could be worth as much as $15 billion, Bloomberg reported, quoting an analyst.

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. The NDA Government finally scrapped the proposed deal in 2014 and opted for buying 36 Rafales off the shelf from France.

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At present, the IAF has 32 squadrons (one squadron has 18-20 planes) while it needs at least 45 squadrons of fighter jets as numerous existing fighter jets in the IAF inventory like MIG-21 and MIG-27s are in the last stages of their operational life.

This will be the first major deal for the fighters after the government canceled the purchase process of 126 Medium Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Air Force five years ago. In the letter Parly expressed France's keen interest to initiate discussions on the proposal of providing an additional 36 aircraft to the IAF.

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