New Delhi has decided to put on hold the eagerly-awaited global tender for its $6 billion procurement of 126 multirole combat aircraft until a bilateral nuclear co-operation deal has been cleared by US Congress, writes Shyam Ravindran.

Sources within India’s defence ministry say the government favours the foreign military sales purchase of US-sourced aircraft, such as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet or Lockheed Martin F-16, to replace its Mikoyan MiG-21s.

Such a selection would form part of a wider strategic partnership between India and the USA, although the defence ministry source says this will not disturb the country’s existing strong military ties with France. India last month requested that Dassault provide technical help in upgrading its air force’s existing fleet of 53 Mirage 2000H fighters to the enhanced 2000-5 standard.

Source: Flight International