With the SQRs (Services Qualitative Requirements) being finalised for the 114 Fighter Aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF), the stage is now set for the process for the procurement of these aircraft has started. Explaining the procedure a senior officer said, “Now that the SQRs for the fighter aircraft are getting finalised, as per the laid down the procedure will go to the technical management committee before being put up in the DAC which is headed by the defence minister Rajnath Singh. Once the DAC approves then the RfPs will be to be sent out to the global aerospace majors.”
“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 the 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. From the US-based Boeing Company has offered F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin has offered the F-16V which as reported earlier has been optimised for India. At this year’s Aero India Lockheed Martin had recast its offering as the ‘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 programs at Boeing had 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.”
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Talking about the growing Indo-US relations, Gillan had 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 Company and Lockheed Martin have tie-ups with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) and 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.