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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to advance its long-pending initiative to acquire 114 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA), aimed at addressing strategic capability deficiencies and enhancing the nation’s aerial prowess. The acquisition process, which has been eagerly anticipated, is expected to gain traction as the IAF moves towards securing the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) from the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in the coming months.

The anticipated AoN, a critical milestone in the procurement process, is expected to be obtained within the next two to three months. Following this, the IAF intends to release the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the acquisition of these advanced fighter aircraft. The program’s estimated cost is approximately $20 billion.

The initiative has seen a notable response from international aerospace companies, with seven prominent contenders participating in the Request for Information (RFI) floated by the IAF. These contenders include France’s Dassault, United States-based Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Sweden’s SAAB, and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation. The selection process is expected to be highly competitive, as the contenders vie to meet India’s stringent requirements for technological transfer and collaboration under the “Make in India” initiative.

As per the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020, the chosen foreign aerospace companies will be required to partner with an Indian counterpart to manufacture the MRFA within India. This move aligns with India’s broader goal of fostering indigenous manufacturing capabilities and achieving self-reliance in defense production. The transfer of cutting-edge technology is a key criterion that prospective manufacturers must fulfill to align with India’s commitment to technological empowerment.

The impending AoN and subsequent release of the RFP mark pivotal steps in the journey towards the acquisition of these advanced fighter aircraft. As the IAF pursues this initiative with diligence, the collaboration between international aerospace giants and Indian manufacturers is set to reshape the landscape of defense production in the country. The acquisition of these modern fighter aircraft will not only bolster India’s security but also contribute to the growth and development of indigenous defense manufacturing capabilities, aligning with the nation’s vision of Aatmanirbharta (self-reliance) in defense technology.

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