The Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to finalise the two-long pending mega ‘Make in India’ projects worth about Rs 1.5 lakh crore ($22 billion), reports Times of India.
According to the report, the IAF is pushing for the request for proposal (RFP) for the acquisition of 114 fighter jets to be issued by late-2019 or early 2020. However, the selection process for the project will take several years. On the other hand, the project for 56 medium transport aircraft by the Tata-Airbus consortium is set to take off this year.
The IAF will receive the first four Rafale fighters in France in September under the Rs 59,000 crore deal signed for 36 such jets in 2016.
“The 114-fighter project is crucial because the 36 Rafales and the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (only 16 of planned 123 jets inducted till now) will not make up for the fast depleting numbers (IAF is down to just 30 fighter squadrons when 42 are required). There is an urgent need to plan for the future,” a source was quoted in the report as saying.
“The ASQRs (air staff qualitative requirements) for the 114 jets have been finalised after discussions with the vendors. IAF will soon move the defence acquisitions council (DAC) for acceptance of necessity and issuance of the RFP. But the entire selection process will take at least five years,” said the source.
However, the Tata-Airbus joint venture for 56 twin-turboprop tactical C-295 aircraft is reportedly almost final now.
“The extensive trials and CNC (contract negotiations committee) are over now. DAC this month will take up the project to approve certain deviations before sending it to the cabinet committee on security for the final nod,” the source said.
As per the report, the C-295 planes will replace the old Avro aircraft, first inducted in the early 1960s, of the IAF. The Airbus will supply the first 16 C-295 aircraft while the remaining 40 will be built in India within eight years.