IAF issues new RFI for fighters
On 6 April 2018, the Indian Air Force formally issued a ‘Request for Information’ concerning procurement of 110 aircraft of which 75% would be single-seaters and the balance twin-seaters, “but having full operational capability.” The aircraft would be truly multirole, including for air superiority, air defence, air to surface operations, reconnaissance, maritime, EW missions, capable of buddy refuelling. In the given narrative, OEMs are required to respond by 6 July 2018, following which will be issued a formal request for proposal to those shortlisted, the acquisition process to be carried out under the provisions of DPP 2016.
The 73- page document details technical parameters and operational characteristics, giving a typical mission profile including that in the strike role with 2 PGMs + Designator Pod + 2 BVRs + 2 A4Ms + External fuel. The airborne multi-mode radar should be AESA, and there are a slew of EW systems + SP jammers included. Importantly, there is a section on transfer of technology for indigenous manufacture of the aircraft in India, being state-of-theart “to ensure rapid build-up of indigenous design and development, production and maintenance capabilities of the aircraft, its subsystems and support equipment.”
As there are no restrictions on size or weight or number of engines in the RFI, observers believe that there could well be an increase in number of OEMs responding, perhaps beyond the original six that took part in the MMRCA tender issued in 2007 which resulted in selection of the Dassault Rafale. ( See several commentaries on the subject in this Issue).