As a move to boost the capability of the country’s armed forces and also to replace the aging combat aircraft fleet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved a step closer for bidding for world’s largest deal for going for the purchase of 114 fighter jets.
Valued at more than $15 billion, the deal has attracted initial offers from global defense majors, including Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Sweden’s Saab AB. At least 85% of production has to be in India.
PM Modi is keen on modernizing the country’s defense forces as in his last term he hardly signed any new major arms deals, even as twin threats from neighboring China and Pakistan loomed. A Pakistani F-16 jet downed an aging Soviet-era MiG 21, Indian Air Force’s mainstay, in a dogfight during a military confrontation earlier this year.
The lawmakers inparliament have ensured that evaluation of initial bids and finalizing the Air Forces’ requirements has begun.The government is also drafting initial documents to purchase tanks and armoured vehicles, as well as asking foreign shipbuilders to show interest to manufacture submarines in India, he said.
The government on Monday asked seven shipyards to submit proposals for the construction of six missile warships and other smaller vessels worth 150 billion rupees ($2.2 billion), the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
The Indian Air Force and Navy require as many as 400 single- and double-engine combat aircraft, according to the government.
Further, Boeing is partnering with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd. for the fighter jet deal offering its F/A-18. Lockheed will jointly bid with salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group for its F-21 jets, and Saab teamed with billionaire Gautam Adani to offer its Gripen jets.
After scrapping an order with Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale jets worth $11 billion in 2015 — a process that took nearly a decade – the government bought 36 jets separately. Under the new tender, the winner will have to deliver the first jet within three years of securing the contract.