India announces tender for new fighter jet
India’s Defence Ministry has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to aerospace manufacturers around the world, announcing the upcoming tender for a light combat jet to replace the aged MiG-21. The Ministry will soon be asking aircraft manufacturers to send-in their proposals together with technology transfer plans, which are a crucial part of the deal. India is reportedly planning to order around 300 aircraft units.
According to Arup Raha, the chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the country has already got “unsolicited proposals” from Saab and Lockheed Martin, both including offers to localize the production of their respective jets in India. A high level of localization is one of India’s main criteria in deciding the winner of the bid, which is part of the broader “Make in India” program.
Swedish Saab is reported to have offered help in improving the currently in-development Indian jet Tejas. The indigenous aircraft still needs improvements in avionics, as well as radar and weapon systems, according to IAF’s chief.
American manufacturer Lockheed Martin, on the other hand, proposes bringing the production of its F-16 aircraft, which will have its US production line shut down in 2017 anyway, to the Indian subcontinent.
Russian aircraft manufacturer MiG is also going to enter the bid with its MiG-35, which was close to winning the bid in 2015. Back then India chose French Dassault Aviation.
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