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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is embarking on a dual-track approach to bolster its fighter jet fleet, with the procurement of 100 Tejas Mk1A aircraft and the upcoming Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) tender. The recent decision to procure an additional 100 Tejas Mk1A fighter jets, following the initial order of 83 in 2021, marks a significant stride towards self-reliance in defence manufacturing. The induction of these aircraft is set to commence in 2024, with a steady ramp-up in production over subsequent years.

However, this move towards strengthening the Tejas fleet should not be misconstrued as a substitute for the ambitious MRFA program. Under the Make in India initiative, the IAF’s plans to procure 114 fighter jets of foreign origin with complete Transfer of Technology (ToT) remain firmly intact.

The Tejas Mk1A and the MRFA tender represent two parallel paths in the IAF’s roadmap. The prospective foreign fighter jets under consideration for the MRFA program reflect the IAF’s discerning approach to choosing the best-suited aircraft for its operational requirements. Options include the Dassault Rafale from France, the Boeing F-15EX Eagle II and F-21 from Lockheed Martin from the US, the Saab Gripen E/F from Sweden, the Eurofighter Typhoon co-manufactured by a European consortium, and Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35 and Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG)-35.

The upcoming MRFA tender, slated to progress with Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) in the coming months, will culminate in the issuance of Requests for Proposals (RFP) to potential bidders. This will set the stage for a competitive and collaborative environment, aligning with the IAF’s vision of augmenting its air fleet with cutting-edge technology.

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