The planes have to be built in India as
part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's drive to build a domestic industrial
base. India asked global companies to submit proposals for 110 fighter jets,
the world’s biggest such order currently, says a release from Indian Defense
The Indian Air Force sought requests for
information for the supply of single- and twin-seat jets to be mostly
manufactured locally, it said in a statement on its website. The Asian nation
had earlier scrapped a deal to buy 126 fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA,
and instead opted to import 36 Rafale aircraft.
The order announced on Friday could be
worth at least $15 billion, and will be the world’s largest fighter aircraft
deal, said Rahul Bedi, a New Delhi-based analyst at Jane’s Information
Services. At least 85 percent of the jets -- three-quarters of which are
single-seat aircraft and the rest twin-seat -- have to be made in India and
manufacturers interested in bidding need to send their proposals by July 6,
according to the government.
Getting new aircraft is crucial for Prime
Minister Narendra Modi as the South Asian nation faces increased risks from
neighbouring Pakistan and China at a time when the Russian MiG fighters --
India’s mainstay -- are being phased out. The country’s air force and navy
require as many as 400 single- and double-engine combat aircraft, according to
the government. The first aircraft must be delivered within three years of
signing the contract.
The South Asian country started looking
for new warplanes in 2007, a contest that ended with the government selecting
Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale jets for $11 billion. With talks stalling over
price and quality guarantees, the government scrapped the purchase in 2015 and
bought 36 jets separately to speed up the process.
India was revising the specifications to
allow manufacturers such as Boeing Co. and United Aircraft Corp. to pitch their
twin-engine combat aircraft in the deal, people familiar with the matter said
in February. Modi wants to modernise the country’s ageing military equipment
with a $250 billion spending, but it has been bogged down by a defence
procurement process which is known for delays, backtracking and a history of
corruption, making it a sensitive, slow-going process.