SOURCE: ABHOY ROY / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Indian Air Force (IAF) has issued Global Requests-for-Information (RFI) for the purchase of 110 new multi-role fighters jets to replace the Mig-27 fleet. Interested vendors are requested to submit their response by 3rd July 2018.
RFI issued by IAF is most likely be responded by Boeing with F-18 Block III Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin with F-16 V, Saab with Gripen-E, Eurofighter Consortium with Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3, Dassault with Rafale and United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) with Mig-35.
Lockheed Martin already has confirmed that it is again going to offer India its F-16 V, while Saab is still going through RFI issued by IAF but it is likely to respond with an offer of Gripen-E fighter jet. Both Jets where only Two contenders which under previous Single Engine Fighter (SEF) issued by IAF were contesting for the supply of 114 units and both seemed to be neck to neck before the tender was dissolved only to be issued again but this time allowing Twin engines fighter aircraft like Eurofighter, F-18, Rafale and Mig-35 back in the race .
What has changed between SEF and MMRCA 2.0 is that IAF has now committed to procure 201 units of Tejas Mk2 fighters to replace Mirage-2000 and the Mig-29 fleet of its fighter aircraft in Middleweight category which has MTOW below 20 tonnes.
While DRDO is yet to confirm what will be the Maximum loaded weight of Tejas Mk2, but with confirmation that it will be replacing Mirage-2000 and the Mig-29 fleet, it is assumed MTOW will be around 15.50 to 16.50 tonnes quite close to aircraft it is replacing which are below 20-tonne mark.
MTOW of Eurofighter, F-18, Rafale, and Mig-35 ranges from 23 to 25 tonnes and only F-16 V and Gripen-E fall below 20-tonne mark which may not make them favorites in the new tender largely since , IAF in its quest to maintain a perfect balance between Light Medium and Heavy Medium options in the fleet might push for additional gains in terms of endurance and payload over Tejas Mk2 then marginal gains with F-16 V and Gripen-E.
Off late Government of India has been seen pushing the case for F-18 Block III Super Hornet for both Indian Air Force and Indian Navy which has combined requirement for 167 Units (IAF-110, IN-57). Chances of Dassault Rafale also making the cut is bright since it already has both Conventional and Carrier capable variants and India already has placed orders for 36 aircraft already.