The Ministry of Defence, Government of India, intends to procure approximately 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBF) for aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy.
The MRCBF are intended as day and night capable, all weather multi-role deck based combat aircraft which can be used for Air Defence (AD), Air to Surface Operations, Buddy Refuelling, Reconnaissance, EW missions etc from Indian Navy aircraft carriers, according to the Request for Information published by the ministry Wednesday.
Among various questions put forth in the RFI, the ministry asks whether the aircraft have capability to operate from both STOBAR (Short Take-off But Arrested Recovery) and CATOBAR (Catapult Take-off But Arrested Recovery) aircraft carriers without any modification to the aircraft?.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had last month, announced that the Naval LCA did not meet his force’s requirements and would look for a Foreign-made plane.
The Navy has been given permission by the Defence Ministry to scout global markets for an aircraft carrier-based fighter aircraft for its future requirements. The Naval LCA made its maiden flight in April 2012 and two prototypes are currently undergoing flying as part of the development, he said.
"We will seek aircraft elsewhere which can operate on the aircraft carrier," Lanba had announced.
THE Navy currently operates Russian MiG-29K fighters from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and which will also fly from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant once it enters service.
The MiG-29Ks were procured by India with the INS Vikramaditya and it is the only country in the world to operate the aircraft. Its maker Russia also does not use it in its Navy. A second IAC weighing 65,000 tonnes is currently in the design phase and the Navy Chief said that they would soon approach the government for approval. The Navy has also, so far, promised to help DRDO in developing its fifth-generation AMCA aircraft.
The IAF was also earlier reluctant to buy the LCA but due to continuous pressure by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the Air Force agreed to buy around 80 more planes from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, making it into a success story.