The Indian Air Force (IAF)’s plan to acquire 114 combat aircraft to supplement its depleting fleet of fighters has advanced to the next step with the air force submitting list of requirements to the Ministry of Defense (MoD) for its approval.
The IAF had last year issued a Request for Information (RFI) after its previous bid to procure 126 multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) was scrapped, following the deal for 36 Rafales in fly-away condition for €7.8 billion ($9.2 billion or INR 58,000 crore).
Seven companies had responded to the previous bid- Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block III, Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon Block 70, Dassault’s Rafale F3R, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab’s Gripen E, the Russian United Aircraft Corporation’s MiG-35 and Sukhoi Corporation’s Su-35.
Now, it has finalised the Air Staff Quality Requirements (ASQR) for the fighter programme and has moved the file for getting the Acceptance of Necessity (AON) from the MoD, according to a report by The Print.
After receiving a nod from the MoD, the IAF will come out with an Expression of Interest (EOI) and finally the Request for Proposal (RFP).
“With the elections round the corner, the IAF expects to get the AON immediately once the new government is sworn in. The IAF expects the EOI to be issued by the second quarter of this year and the RFP by the last quarter,” the report quoted a top source as saying.
The main competition is between the Dassault’s Rafale, Boeing’s F/A-18 and the Saab Gripen, even though a total of seven aircraft are vying for the mega deal, according to the sources.
Lockheed Martin had offered India its newly configured F-21 fighter aircraft to be manufactured indigenously in the country, during the Aero India 2019 airshow.