In yet another announcement, one amongst many over the years, Indian defence minister, AK Antony, has said that the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the acquisition of 126 fighters by the Indian Air Force would be issued very soon. He said that though the outer time limit for issuing the proposal was two-to-three months, very likely it might be issued at any time.
"It will be issued very soon", he told reporters after inaugurating a new building of the Central Research Laboratory of Bharat Heavy Electricals.
The long-delayed global tender for 126 multi-role combat jets is a deal that the global defence market believes is worth around $11 billion over its entire lifetime.
Last month defence ministry officials had said that they were still trying to resolve certain "procedural issues" before they could float a RFP for the aircraft. The 'issues' related to areas like calculating life-cycle costs, the manner in which the offsets policy governing defence purchases would be implemented, and transfer of technology (TOT).
It is has also been speculated upon that the government may shorten the acquisition process by issuing a direct request for quotation (RFQ) instead of an RFP.
Meanwhile, responding to questions about the reported delays in the acquisition of INS Vikramaditya (ex-Adm Gorshkov), the defence minister agreed that there were some problems but was hopeful that these would be sorted out soon.
The 48,500 tonne refurbished carrier is scheduled for delivery to the Indian Navy by August of next year.
Antony is also due to visit Moscow this October to attend the seventh meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation and it is expected that this matter will be resolved satisfactorily at this meeting, if not earlier.