Release of the India’s long-awaited request for proposals for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft has been approved by the government’s defence acquisition council.
The RFP is expected to be issued within weeks, launching a competition between European, Russian and US fighter manufacturers for a contract that is expected to be between $8 billion and $10 billion.
India plans to buy 18 aircraft in fly-away condition and manufacture the remaining 108 under license at Hindustan Aeronautics. The contract is expected to include options for additional aircraft.
The Boeing F/A-18E/F, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, RSK MiG-35 and Saab Gripen are the likely contenders for the competition to replace the Indian air force’s HAL-built MiG-21s.
Local report says the government will require 50% of the contract value to be placed with Indian industry, an increase from its usual 30% offset requirement for defence procurements.
Bids will undergo a technical evaluation to ensure compliance with the air force’s requirements, followed by flight trails of the competing aircraft. Bidders will then be shortlisted and their commercial proposals evaluated, but observers believe political factors will dominate India’s decision-making.