The Indian Air Force will soon initiate the process of acquiring over 100 jets worth over INR 1.25 lakh crore (US$ 19 billion) from the global aircraft manufacturers around DefExpo 2018, to address shortage of combat airplanes.
The Air Force is working hard to issue the Request for Information (RFI) for the combat aircraft, and it is expected to come out before the Defexpo exhibition which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 11, government sources told Mail Today.
According to previous reports, the IAF is well below the 42 combat squadron strength to tackle the scenario of a two-front war with China and Pakistan.
The Air Force has already told the government that it is in a hurry to induct new planes and wants the government to go for an inter-governmental deal with a foreign country to make the planes here at the earliest, the report says. The air force is looking to acquire both single engine and twin engine fighters which will be prioritised during the selection process for the mega tender.
Sources said the tender process would not be as stringent as the previous competition held on 2007 for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) procurement programme, where Frances Rafale jet was finally chosen, but the project had to be cancelled later on.
At present, the IAF has an effective strength of just 34 combat squadrons but three of those are of the older MiG-21BIS, MiG-21M and MiG-27 which are on the verge of being phased out.
There are 11 squadrons of the frontline Su-30MKI, three each of the MiG-29 and Mirage 2000, six Jaguar and six MiG-21Bison squadrons apart from two upgraded MiG-27 squadrons. The force has already ordered three more Su-30MKI and two Dassault Rafale squadrons along with two squadrons of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas MK 1.