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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG.

Indian Navy in talks with Boeing, to lease 15-18 F-18E/F Carrier-based fighter jets for deck based operations from the upcoming Indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant is now viral on Indian defense community is not true and informed sources close to idrw.org have confirmed that recent Defence Procurement Procedure 2020 that had introduced the “lease” category while giving flexibility to the military to procure equipment on rent instead of buying it from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) has no provisions for leasing fighter jets.

Platforms like transport fleet, trainers, simulators, and machinery required for search and rescue missions have, so far, been permitted to be procured on a lease but not platforms like fighter jets. even leasing will be allowed only for a short duration or in special cases where ownership turns out to be a costly affair.

Leasing F-18E/F will be a costly affair for the Indian Navy unless it plans to procure them in sizeable numbers in the future since it could require trained manpower and aircrew to operate them from the decks of the aircraft carriers. idrw.org has been told that problems facing Mig-29K have been resolved to a large extent but inherited technical deficiencies of converting an air force variant for the Navy cant be fixed and the Navy has decided to operate them till TEDBF is made available or something else is available.

Navy is also in the process of cutting down the number of fighters from 57 to around 36 under its, Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBF) Tender for its Carrier-based jet to supplement Mig-29K fleet till the Twin Engine Carrier-Based Deck Fighter (TEBDF) is ready to enter production in 2029-30 so that Mig-29K fleet will be retired from 2034 onwards. A lot depends if TEBDF sticks to its timeline of the first flight by 2026-27 and cleared for production in 2030, while the Navy has committed to procure 100 TEDBF in the written assurance that has been submitted to ADA and MOD due to which 13000 crores, project sanction was granted for the program but the money is yet to flow so Navy has kept option to procure jet from abroad open for time being but leasing is not on the table.

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