As part of efforts to modernise the Indian Air Force (IAF) which needs 42 fighter squadrons in total, India has begun the process for inviting bids for the supply of 114 modern fighter jets, in a deal that is estimated to be valued at $15 billion reports Business Standard.
This is currently the world’s largest defence deal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to boost the capability of the IAF and replace an aging combat aircraft fleet. As per government reports 44 aircraft and helicopters of the IAF have been lost in crashes since 2014 in which 46 personnel were killed.
Some of the world’s leading fighter aircraft manufacturers are bidding for the deal, including the likes of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Sweden’s Saab; to give imputes to make it in India initiative at least 85 per cent of production must be completed domestically in India.
The Indian Air Force’s current squadron strength is a dismal 34, with the effective combat squadron number even lower at only 31. The force needs to rapidly absorb a large number of combat aircraft to ensure that it can meet any challenges from both Pakistan and China.