India to begin two-week air combat exercise

Marsha Scott
April 8, 2018

15 Billion $ fighter jet deal re-tendered.

Meanwhile, the Indian Defence Ministry announced on Friday that an all-encompassing coordinated and composite exercise will be held by the Indian Air Force from April 8-22 to test coordination, deployment and employment of air power in a short and intense battle scenario.

Of the planes, 15% have to be in flyaway condition with the remaining 85% to be made in India by a strategic partner, according to the terms of the request for information (RFI) issued by the defence ministry on Friday. At least 85 per cent of the jets - three-quarters of which are single-seat aircraft and the rest twin-seat - have to be made in India and manufacturers interested in bidding need to send their proposals by July 6, according to the government.

The major contenders for the competition are likely to be American Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin's F-16 V5, French Dassault Rafale, Swedish Saab's Gripen, Russian MiG-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon.

The order would be worth between $9-13 billion (Rs 584-844 billion) making it the world's biggest worldwide fighter buy.

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According to the RFI, around 75% of the aircraft will be single-seat ones. As regards the capabilities of the jet, the tender stipulates that the plane should be able to perform roles like air superiority, air defence, air to surface operations and reconnaissance. With talks stalling over price and quality guarantees, the government scrapped the purchase in 2015 and bought 36 jets separately to speed up the process.

Indias latest hunt for over 100 fighter jets is the first mega procurement initiative for fighter jets after the government scrapped the process to acquire 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the IAF around five years ago.

Each squadron has 18 jets.

The IAF that is operating with only 33 fighter squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42 will be further reduced to only 16 by 2032 and 19 by 2027. United States aerospace major Lockheed Martin has joined hands with India's Tata Advanced Systems to build the planes in India.

During French President Emanuel Macron's visit to India last month, an additional 36 Rafale righter jets were proposed to the Indian government; the ministry of defence is now reviewing the offer.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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