The Indian Air Force (IAF) is in the process of giving final touches to two big 'Make in India' projects valued at around Rs 1.5 lakh crore ($22 billion).
The project for 56 medium transport aircraft by the Tata-Airbus consortium is ready to be initiated this year while the other mega project for 114 fighter jets will take some years to take off, according to a report in The Times of India.
The IAF has been pressing for the Request for Proposal (RFP) to be issued by late-2019 or early-2020. "The 114-fighter project is crucial because the 36 Rafales and the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (only 16 of planned 123 jets inducted till now) will not make up for the fast depleting numbers (IAF is down to just 30 fighter squadrons when 42 are required). There is an urgent need to plan for the future," a source told the news daily.
Meanwhile, India will get its first Rafale fighter jet by September 2019. The country will get all 36 aircraft by 2022 under the Rs 59,000 crore deal signed with France.
According to the report, Rafale is among the seven contenders for the 114 fighter jets for over Rs 1.25 lakh crore that comes under the defence ministry's 'strategic partnership' model. The others in the competition are F/A-18 and F-16 (US), MiG-35 and Sukhoi-35 (Russia), Gripen-E (Sweden) and Eurofighter Typhoon.
"The ASQRs (air staff qualitative requirements) for the 114 jets have been finalised after discussions with the vendors. IAF will soon move the defence acquisitions council (DAC) for acceptance of necessity and issuance of the RFP. But the entire selection process will take at least five years," the news daily cited the source as saying.
However, the Tata-Airbus Joint Venture (JV) for 56 C-295 transport aircraft is in its final stage now as the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) is going to "take up the project to approve certain deviations", the report said. After DAC's approval, the project will be sent to Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for giving its final nod.
The deal initially valued worth over Rs 11,929 crore once developed by the DRDO will be known as multimission maritime reconnaissance aircraft for the coast guard.