The market for fighter jets in countries which are expected to have open competitions is estimated at US$50 billion to $60 billion.
India, Switzerland, Belgium, Malaysia, Germany, Singapore and Morocco are among countries looking at buying new aircraft to replace old western or Soviet bloc aircraft.
The Indian defense ministry is likely to pick a supplier, early next year, from six manufacturers for its 110 fighter jets, of which 85 per cent of aircraft have to be manufactured in India. The contract is valued at $15 to $20 billion dollars. Lockheed Martin F-16, SAAB Gripen, Boeing F-18, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and United Aircraft Corporation MiG-35 are the main competitors who have bid for the program.
Switzerland has sent out request to Saab (Gripen), Dassault (Rafale), Airbus (Eurofighter), Boeing (Super Hornet) and Lockheed Martin (F-35A) to bid for its Air 2030 program to procure new combat aircraft and ground-based defences in a programme valued at CHF8 billion ($8.1 billion). The new fleet would replace the current Northrop F-5 Tigers and F/A-18s which are scheduled to be retired in the 2020s.
Belgium is eyeing to replace its aging F-16 fighter jets. US has pitched 34 F-35 fighter jets worth $6.5 billion for the replacement program. Boeing F/A-18, Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale have also made pitches to sell aircraft to Belgium.
Japan is eyeing to build its own next generation aircraft under F-3 program to replace its ageing F-15 fighters. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have responded to Japan’s request. (Boeing and BAE Systems and other defense contractors still have a chance to enter the F-3 competition).
Malaysia intended to procure 18 new fighters to replace MiG-29 aircraft with Boeing F/A-18D and Su-30MKM fighters. However, in 2017, it shelved the acquisition program temporarily due to budgetary constraints. The Malaysian Air Force may consider replacing them with cheaper lightweight multirole fighter which may include Saab Gripen, Russian MiG-35, Pakistani JF-17 or Chinese J-10 or buy excess used F-15s or Eurofighter Typhoons from Saudi Arabia. Russia had offered them MiG-29SM and Dassault in March last year.
Germany is eyeing to replace its fleet of 90 Tornadoes and has sought information from Lockheed Martin about its F-35 fighter jet and Boeing for their F-15E and F/A-18E/F fighter jets. Germany also plans to develop a new generation European fighter jet jointly with France. It would cost an approximate $10 billion for the replacement program.
Singapore is likely to make a decision soon about its plans to replace its 60 F-16 fighters.The F-35 is being seen as a favorite although other competitors include Eurofighter Typhoon by BAE Systems. Singapore had intended to buy four F-35s by around 2022, with the option to purchase another eight, but held off taking a decision on this in 2016. The replacement program is likely to cost an approximate $6 billion to $8 billion.
Finland is planning to replace its fleet of 64 F/A-18 Hornets with a NATO compatible multirole fighter jet. The Finnish MoD had issued a request for proposal to five aircraft manufacturers in April this year. The candidates for consideration include French Dassault Rafale, Eurfoghter Typhoon, Saab Gripen-E, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35. The acquisition is likely to cost Finland an approximate $12 billion.
Although Morocco has introduced the F-16 to its inventory, it is unclear whether there will be replacement programs for the Mirage F1 and the Northrop F-5, both of which remain in frontline service. The latter continues to serve Tunisia as its primary frontline aircraft, but a replacement will likely have to come online in the next 5-7 years.
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