New Delhi: India is looking to buy more than 100 new fighter jets, the Air Force said in a Request for Information on Friday. The deal, eventually expected to cost upwards of Rs 100,000 crores or about 15 billion dollars, will be the world's largest for fighter jets.
- India looking to buy more than 100 new fighter jets
- First aircraft must be delivered within 3 years of signing contract
- The request for information is open until July, Air Force said
The Request for Information lays down multiple parameters on the basis of which the Air Force will evaluate various fighter jets. Manufacturers such as SAAB of Sweden, Lockheed Martin and Boeing of the United States, Dassault of France, MiG of Russia and the European consortium Eurofighter are expected to compete.
The Air Force said "85 per cent will have to be made in India by a Strategic Partner/Indian Production Agency". The first aircraft must be delivered within three years of signing the contract. The request for information is open until July, the Air Force said.
The new process to acquire jets effectively replaces the still-born Medium Multi-role Combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal which the Air Force ultimately scrapped when the government entered into a direct deal with France to acquire 36 Rafale jets. Though IAF sources say the process to acquire these jets "is moving fast," it will still be years before the entire process of trials and price negotiations will be complete.
In its Request for Information, it is clear that the Air Force is not willing to compromise on the technology or the capability that it wants to acquire - the new jets should come equipped with state of the art avionics, ideally "fly in excess of 10 hour with Air to Air Refuelling (AAR), and be able to operate from high-altitude air-fields such as Leh".
Additionally, India is interested in cutting-edge Gallium Nitride (GaN) based technology being used in the electronically scanned phased array radar of the fighter. The radar should ideally "have the capability to carry out simultaneous Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface operation," in other words, have the ability to detect, track and possibly launch weapons almost simultaneously against targets in the air and on the ground.