India will be issuing a request for information (RFI) next month to Lockheed Martin for its F-16 Block 70 and Saab for its Gripen E, for manufacturing single-engine fighters in India.
The ministry of defence will a RFI to US firm Lockheed Martin and Swedish Saab to produce single-engine fighters in collaboration with a private company in the India, DefenseNews reported Monday.
The move is taken to accelerate the Make in India initiative under the strategic partnership model in which the two companies will be asked to submit offers detailing the single-engine fighters' air power capabilities.
The submitted offer also has to include ''India-specific technology transfer, domestic solutions for the program and the offer for building an ecosystem for the program in the country,'' said a senior Indian Air force official, according to DefenseNews.
''We have chosen both F-16 Block 70 and Gripen E because both single-engine fighters are fully upgraded, fully tested and are in full use,'' the air force official added.
Both Lockheed Martin and Saab will be given three months to respond to the RFI, which will then be evaluated by an IAF expert committee and the final selection will be made early next year, he added.
Likewise, an expression of interest, or EOI, will be issued to domestic companies in the next three to four months, which will in turn tie up with overseas original equipment manufacturers to build around 120 single engine fighters, initially costing around $18 billion under the strategic partnership model, a MoD official noted.
India's government unveiled the SP policy in May, which allows major private defence companies to be nominated as entities to manufacture major defence platforms in partnership with OEMs.
Under this policy, nominated private entities will build submarines, helicopters, single-engine fighters and armoured vehicles and battle tanks in India in the next 20 years.
(Also see: Lockheed offers to make India F-16 export hub if it bags IAF order)