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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is on a mission to bolster its fleet with 114 fighter jets, and it’s not sparing any effort to expedite the procurement process. In a recent move, the IAF has disclosed its plan to allow some of these jets to be manufactured by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) at their facilities before production commences at the designated Indian plant.

The IAF’s aspiration to acquire 114 fighter jets under the Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) tender is gaining momentum. To expedite the process, the IAF is willing to adopt an unconventional approach: allowing the OEMs to produce a portion of the jets at their own facilities. This deviation from the traditional procurement path aims to save time and speed up the induction of these jets into the IAF’s inventory.

The IAF’s strategy involves a two-stage procurement approach. In the first phase, the IAF plans to procure at least 18 fighter jets directly from the OEMs. These jets will be acquired before the remaining 96 units are manufactured in India, following the Transfer of Technology (ToT) process. This phased approach ensures that the IAF can begin receiving jets sooner rather than later.

The IAF is cognizant of the potential delay in the procurement process, particularly the time required from the contract’s signature to the first fighter jet rolling out of the designated Indian manufacturing plant. This phase is expected to take around 36 to 42 months. To mitigate the impact of this delay, the IAF is actively pursuing the grant of Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). This AoN, valued at approximately $20 billion, is critical to keep the procurement process on track.

To realize this ambitious procurement plan, the IAF has already held discussions with eight OEMs that have offered their fighter jets in response to the Request for Information (RFI) issued by the IAF. These talks mark a significant step in engaging with potential suppliers and understanding their capabilities and offerings.

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