'Make in India' for 90 medium combat jets
In another major step towards self reliance in the defence sector, a plan is being finalised to produce 90 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) in India, informed sources said.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) is expected to be drafted soon after the new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) comes in place.
Expected to be one of the biggest projects under the Make in India campaign, the cost of the programme is expected to be around $30 million, the sources said.
The Indian Air Force requires 126 MMRCAs. With India getting into an agreement with France to get 36 Rafale fighter jets in flyaway condition, there was a lack of clarity on how the rest of the gap will be filled.
The sources said that now these remaining jets will be made in India, in what will be a major step in domestic manufacturing of such aircraft.
According to the sources, the air force does not have enough squadrons in the event of a joint war with Pakistan and China.
"An RFP is expected to be drafted soon for making 90 MMRCAs in India. A global tender will be floated. The private sector will also have an active participation," said an official from the defence ministry.
As many foreign bidders were in the race when India set out to buy 126 MMRCAs, for which Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, was finally chosen, the sources said all original bidders will be invited.
The list of fighters that were in competition for the MMRCA bid included Russia's MIG-35 (RAC MiG), Swedish Gripen, Dassault, American Lockheed Martin and Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon made by a consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian firms.
The sources said that out of the 90 aircraft, 54 will be single-seaters and the remaining 36 tandem-seaters.
There will be an option of acquiring 45 additional fighters as a follow-up order.
The Indian Air Force is expected to be down to 32 squadrons by the end of this year, 576 fighter jets short of the 750-strong fighter jet fleet required as per vision documents to face simultaneous two-front wars with Pakistan and China.
At least three squadrons of the vintage Soviet origin MiG-21 and MiG-27 single engine aircraft are scheduled to be phased out.
Article Published in Times of India