Six manufactures in fray for IAF's 110 fighter jet contract

The Indian Air Force is reported to have received responses from six global aircraft manufacturers for its request for information (RFI) on the supply of 110 fighter aircraft as the 6 July deadline ended.

The bidders include Lockheed Martin with its F-16 and SAAB Gripen — both single-engine fighters — Boeing with its F-18, Dassault with its Rafale, Eurofighter offering Typhoon and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation with its MiG-35 - all twin-engine fighter jets.
All six manufacturers have earlier bid for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), which was cancelled in 2015.
“The bids will be evaluated after which the IAF will issue the Request for Proposal (RFP) with the exact specifications of the aircraft to be procured. The RFP is expected by early next year,” the Hindu BusinessLine quoted an official as saying.
As per the RFI, issued on 6 April, the IAF plans to buy 110 fighters jets, of which 85 per cent will have to be built in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme in partnership with a “Strategic Partner / Indian Production Agency.”
The procurement will be processed through the Strategic Partnership (SP) model under the Defence Procurement Procedure.
While the Air Force expects to complete the technical evaluation and trials quickly, as all the aircraft have been extensively tested earlier, the government is yet to clarify on the SP model and this could take time, says the report.
From the technical evaluation to the selection of the aircraft, it is expected to take around two years, after which the contract negotiations will start.
Earlier, the IAF was looking for a single-engine jet to replace the MiG-21s and MiG-27s being phased out of service, but the new RFI has opened the contest to both single-and twin-engine jets.
The final choice would, however, depend on the price and extent of technology transfer.
The entire order could cost over $15 billion. Single-engine aircraft will cost lower than the twin-engine jets, both in unit and operational costs, say sources.