India’s quest to acquire 114 fighter jets faces a significant hurdle as the long-anticipated Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) remains pending from the government. The delay in granting AoN has raised concerns about the timeline for this crucial defence procurement.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been eagerly awaiting the AoN for its capital acquisition proposal, which was expected to be granted by Mid of this year. However, as November arrives, the approval is yet to materialize.

The AoN is a critical initial step in the acquisition process for military equipment and hardware, as per India’s defence acquisition norms. It marks the government’s official acknowledgement of the necessity for a particular procurement. Subsequently, the tendering and contracting process can proceed once the AoN is granted.

The delay in securing the AoN for the Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) program, which aims to purchase 114 fighter jets, can be attributed to several factors. One primary challenge is the need to fix the program budget. The scale and sophistication of this acquisition mean that it might cross the $20 billion mark, making it a significant financial commitment.

The IAF has been actively advocating for a prompt grant of the AoN, recognizing the urgency of modernizing its air fleet. The introduction of next-generation fighter jets is essential to enhance the country’s defence capabilities.

However, it is now speculated that the AoN may not be granted until after the general elections scheduled for May next year. The delay has caused concerns about the impact on the modernization and readiness of the Indian Air Force.

The procurement of fighter jets is a complex and critical process that requires meticulous planning and budget allocation. While the delay in the AoN grant is a setback, the IAF remains committed to achieving a more robust and capable air force.

The road ahead involves navigating the bureaucratic intricacies and budget considerations, but the IAF’s determination to bolster the nation’s defence capabilities remains unwavering. The coming months will reveal whether the grant of AoN is within reach and when the procurement process can move forward.

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