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07:02 PM, October 10, 2016
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Saab JAS 39 Gripen light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft

The Indian Air Force has restarted a global contest, inviting international fighter jet manufacturers to set up a production facility in India to make single-Engine fighters.

According to Business Standard report, Indian embassies in Washington, Moscow and Stockholm have written to jet manufacturers in these countries to confirm whether they would be interested in partnering with an Indian company in building a medium, single-engine fighter, with significant transfer of technology to the Indian entity.

The confidential document helps to determine if the vendors are interested and what they are willing to offer, Business Standard reported Saturday.

This time in the document, which is precursor to Request for Proposal, it has been specified that IAF requires a single-engine fighter. It differs from an earlier tender, issued in 2007, for 126 medium, multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).

The previous MMRCA tender had no such stipulation; hence it saw six vendors fielding four twin-engine and two single-engine fighters. The twin-engine offerings included Dassault’s Rafale, Eurofighter GmbH’s Typhoon, Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and RAC MiG’s MiG-35, whereas the single-engine fighters offered were Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper and Saab’s Gripen D.

Gradually, the MMRCA tender collapsed, with the IAF last month buying a token 36 Rafale fighters. Now, the IAF has restarted a more focused contest that will feature only single-engine fighters.

Many airpower experts have said that the IAF needs single-engine fighters to replace the single-engine MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighters that must be retiring in the near future.

The IAF chief said required four improvements were better combat radar, more lethal weapons, electronic warfare capability and better maintainability.

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