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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is progressing with its Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) programme, which is expected to reach the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage later this year or in early 2024. The upcoming RFP will feature stringent requirements aimed at eliminating fighter jets that fail to meet the technical specifications outlined in the proposal. This approach will help streamline the selection process by reducing the number of contenders, ensuring that only qualified aircraft are considered for the MRFA programme.

Sources familiar with the matter have suggested that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) typically submit lengthy proposals spanning thousands of pages in response to the RFP. These proposals require extensive checking and verification, often resulting in significant delays. To address this issue, the IAF is determined to establish strict technical requirements in the RFP, ensuring that only aircraft meeting the specified criteria move forward in the selection process. By doing so, the evaluation and vetting process can be expedited, facilitating a more efficient procurement process.

The IAF plans to seek the Defence Acquisition Council’s (DAC) accord for Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement of 114 MRFA later this year. Once the AoN is obtained, the formal procurement process will commence, paving the way for the issuance of a detailed Request for Proposal. This milestone signifies a significant step forward in the MRFA programme, as it sets the stage for potential OEMs to submit their proposals for consideration.

In the RFP, the IAF is likely to emphasize the importance of Transfer of Technology (ToT), aiming for up to 75% ToT value. This approach aligns with India’s broader strategic goal of fostering indigenous defense manufacturing capabilities and reducing dependency on OEMs for the future upgradation of weapon systems. By obtaining significant ToT, the IAF seeks to enhance its self-sufficiency and strengthen the country’s defense industry.

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