The Indian Air Force’s wait for new fighter jets to replace an ageing MiG fleet is set to get longer. The selection process to identify combat aircraft to be made in India is unlikely to commence before the general elections this year, high-level sources indicate.
Steps to induct a Future Multi-Role Fighter (FMRF) has been awaited since 2016, when the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets was signed and a decision was taken to manufacture 110 fighters under a new strategic partnership policy intended to promote the private sector.
Several officials ET spoke to confirmed that responses have been received from seven companies after a preliminary request.
The inputs were being studied to firm up the technical requirement the Air Force would mandate for the formal selection process to begin, the officials said.
The slack is on account of the shadow cast by the Rafale controversy that has impacted decision making.
Multiple rounds of meetings have taken place with foreign vendors who have responded to the preliminary request, and the Air Force has been studying how much of indigenous production it can mandate for the contract. The plan is to ensure that fighters made in India under the scheme have no less than 45% local content. (end of excerpt)
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