SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG
Indian Air Force (IAF) Technically has been handed over its 1st first Rafale ‘RB-001’ from France recently and will be officially handed over on 8th next month when Defence minister Rajnath Singh will be in France for the official induction ceremony. recent media reports hint that Modi government already has finalized a deal for 36 more Rafale fighter jet which will be inked in early 2020.
India already has invested in the country-specific enhancements and infrastructure to support the aircraft in the country and an additional of 36 Rafale will take the fleet to 72 which will be good enough to meet operational requirements post-Balakot air confrontation with the Pakistani air force .
IAF already has issued RFI for procurement of 114 units of Made in India fighter jets of foreign origin but it is yet to decide on the winner and it is expected that it will take a minimum of 3-5 years before the first aircraft comes from the local production unit if the contract is signed by end of 2020.
The United States has been pressuring India to procure either of their two offerings but post drowning of Pakistani F-16 by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, re-badged F-16 offered to India by Lockheed Martin as F-21 is on the slippery slope but Boeing F-18 which has both carrier variant and Air force variant is still considered to be in the race along with Dassault Rafale fighter jet.
Gripen-E offered by SAAB is more or less out of the competition due to the development of MWF-Tejas Mk2 which will be comparable to the aircraft, while Russian Mig-35 and Sukhoi-Su-35 are not seen as serious contenders. IAF has decided to procure 18 Su-30MKI and 21 Mig-29 fighter jets from Russia and already in talks to upgrade its entire Su-30MKI fleet of 272 aircraft.
Dassault Aviation and Boeing have offered to help India built India’s 5th generation AMCA fighter jet if they win the contract to supply 114 units of fighter aircraft to the Indian Air force, Indian Navy has a separate requirement for 57 carrier-based fighter jets for its second aircraft carrier
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