Make In India F-16s, F-18s: Hunt for new range of fighter jets set to take off

The defence ministry is moving fast to end the critical shortage of fighter jets in the Indian Air Force (IAF) which has been decommissioning squadrons flying MIG-21s that have been in service for over 50 years.

Gautam Datt  | Posted by T.A.Bharadwaj

New Delhi, June 29, 2016 | UPDATED 09:42 IST

Indian officials will get a presentation on the proposals on F-16s and F-18s next month when Pentagon official Frank Kendall will be in New Delhi.Indian officials will get a presentation on the proposals on F-16s and F-18s next month when Pentagon official Frank Kendall will be in New Delhi.

Hoping to seal the deal for 36 French Rafale soon, India’s hunt for another range of fighters will gain ground next month when it gets a lowdown on the plans for ‘Make in India’ F-16s and F-18s.

Indian officials will get a presentation on the proposals on the two US fighters next month when Pentagon official Frank Kendall will be in New Delhi.

END TO CRISIS

The defence ministry is moving fast to end the critical shortage of fighter jets in the Indian Air Force (IAF) which has been decommissioning squadrons flying MIG-21s that have been in service for over 50 years.

US companies have already made formal presentations on supplying F-16s and F-18s to the IAF but New Delhi wants to make these planes completely in India. The Russian Sukhoi-30 MKIs are assembled in India but the new proposal is to get complete transfer of technology that would require assembly lines of the US fighters to be set up in India.

Sources said that after New Delhi conveyed its plans, the US officials will bring back their proposal in the meeting next month. India is keen on deep absorption of technology, not just bringing the planes in knocked-down kits.

The IAF’s requirement for fighter jets is such that there will be enough orders for the companies to set up manufacturing units in India.

NEW PROJECTS

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to Washington, India was recognised as a major defence partner of the US. Kendall’s visit is being seen as a follow-up of the move to explore new projects of cooperation. Sweden’s aircraft defence major Saab has also offered Gripen fighter jets but it is yet to make a formal presentation. The IAF had rationalised fighter operations to delay decommissioning of some squadrons. New Delhi hopes that the deal to buy 36 French Rafales would be signed in the coming weeks.

The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will make an entry into IAF from July 1. Only two aircraft will form the 45 squadron which is being revived. The IAF will have 20 aircrafts with the current capability and equal numbers with enhanced features and 80 with the advanced version which, apart from the new radar, will have capability to fire advanced BVR and short range missiles.

IMPROVEMENTS

Officials hope that the strength of the squadron will reach eight by the end of next year. The complete version of Tejas, known as Mk IA, which will bring it at par with the best in the world, is still some years away. This aircraft will have Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) which will enable it to handle several targets.

CHOICE GALORE

In terms of the existing platforms, the supply of home-assembled Su-30 MKIs by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to IAF has improved significantly. Last year, IAF received close to 20 aircraft, the highest since production began over a decade ago. The officials said that all options are on the table as of now on the choice of new fighters

@intoday.in

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Not surprised with the rate of flip flop the Indians have been doing lately!

What is the rationale behind wanting the F-16 that nobody buys anymore? 

Why would they want the F-18 which is inferior to the Rafale and still has oxygen issues?

Related post:

Indian deal for 36 Rafales moves forward

‘Made in India’ F-16s on radar, thanks to FDI

Saab highlights Make in India plans; says Gripen has lowest life cycle cost in world, India one of its home markets

Rafale fighter deal: Manohar Parrikar to meet French counterpart in Singapore

Rafale jet deal: More delays likely as France rejects bank guarantee

India to select fighter jet under ‘Make in India’ by March: Manohar Parikkar

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