96 JETS TO BE MADE IN INDIA
The Indian Air Force is considering acquiring 114 fighter jets, out of which, 96 would be built in India, in a major push to the country’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme.The remaining 18 would be imported from the foreign vendor chosen for the project.
“Recently, the Indian Air Force held meetings with the foreign vendors and asked them about the way they would carry out the Make in India project,” news agency ANI quoted sources as saying.
According to the plan, after the initial 18 aircraft are imported, the next 36 aircraft would be manufactured within the country and the payments would be made partially in foreign currency and Indian currency.
The last 60 aircraft would be the main responsibility of the Indian partner and the government would make payments only in Indian currency, sources said.
In February last year, IAF ordered another 73 Tejas Mark-1A fighters, with 43 “improvements”, and 10 trainers for Rs 46,898 crore from HAL. They have to be delivered in the 2024-2028 timeframe to add to depleting IAF fighter squadrons, which are down to just 32 (each has 16-18 jets) when at least 42 are required for the requisite deterrence against the “collusive threat” from China and Pakistan.
The Tejas Mark-2 and the indigenous fifth-generation fighter called the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), with advanced stealth features as well as `supercruise’ capabilities, are still on the drawing board as of now.
Meanwhile, India has received the first lot of Rafale fighters with India-specific enhancements to make them deadlier, even as indigenous Tejas jets are being deployed for a multi-nation exercise abroad for the first time.
The three Rafales have come with hardware tweaks for the 13 India-specific enhancements (ISEs), which include the capability to fire top-notch Meteor air-to-air missiles, while the software upgrade will take place here.