New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is in the process of purchasing 114 fighter aircraft with the SQRs (Services Qualitative Requirements) being finalised.
“Now that the SQRs for the fighter aircraft are getting finalised, as per the laid down procedure, it will go to the technical management committee before being put up in the DAC which is headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Once the DAC approves then the RfPs will be sent out to the global aerospace majors,” official sources said.
“Minimum time it will take the process to be completed is not less than a couple of years,” he explained. The acquisition of these 114 fighter aircraft which is under the Defence Ministry’s Strategic Partnership (SP) Model, has seven contenders who have envisaged their interest in Rs 1.75 lakh crore deal.
Among the European companies including Dassault Aviation of France has offered `Rafale’, the UK based BAE Systems is leading `Typhoon’ bid and the Swedish offer of Gripen E/F from SAAB. American Boeing company has offered F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin has offered F-16V which as reported earlier has been optimised for India. At this year’s Aero India Lockheed Martin had recast its offering as ‘F-21’. And from Russia MiG-35 is in the race.
In an earlier interaction, Dan Gillian, vice president of F/A-18 and E/A-18 programmes at Boeing said that “If the company gets contracts from the IAF and the Indian Navy then it was ready to set up a new production facility in India.”
Talking about the growing Indo-US relations, Gillian said that the defence and security have been on an upswing, therefore there will be no issues related to transfer of technology (ToT).
Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin have tie-ups with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) & Tata Advanced Systems for manufacturing the aircraft in India and creating an ecosystem for the aerospace sector.
Interestingly the US-based Boeing is also in contention with the French Rafale for an aircraft deal for the Indian Navy which is looking for 57 twin-engine fighters for its aircraft carriers.