India has finally moved a step closer for inviting bids for the acquiring 114 fighter jets, currently it will be considered to be the world’s largest deal in reality, as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking upgrade nuclear and military capability of the armed forces and replace an aging outdated combat aircraft fleet.
The iconic deal which is roughly valued at more than $15 billion has attracted couple of initial offers from World’s leading defense giants , including Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Sweden’s Saab AB. At least 85% of production has to be done in India, according to an initial document issued more than a year back.
Modernizing the country’s defence forces is very crucial and important for Mr Modi, who has hardly inked any new major arms deals during his first term, even as twin threats from neighboring China and Pakistan is looming. A Pakistani F-16 jet downed an Indian old Soviet-era fighter plane MiG 21 — Indian Air Force’s mainstay — in a dogfight during a military confrontation earlier this year.
The evaluation of initial bids and finalizing the Air Forces’ requirements has begun, junior defence minister Shripad Naik told lawmakers in parliament. India is also drafting initial documents to purchase tanks and armored vehicles, as well as asking foreign shipbuilders to show interest to manufacture submarines in India, he said.
Naik’s comments came two days after India sought bids for purchasing warships and support vessels for its navy and coast guard as it ramps up security of its maritime border in the Indian Ocean region. Modi’s administration on Monday asked seven shipyards to submit proposals for the construction of six missile warships and other smaller vessels worth 150 billion rupees ($2.2 billion), the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
The Indian Air Force and Navy require as many as 400 single- and double-engine combat aircraft, according to the government.
Boeing is partnering with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd. for the fighter jet deal offering its F/A-18. Lockheed will jointly bid with salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group for its F-21 jets, and Saab teamed with billionaire Gautam Adani to offer its Gripen jets.
After scrapping an order with Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale jets worth $11 billion in 2015 — a process that took nearly 10 years — Modi’s first term in government purchased 36 jets separately. Under the new deal, and it will be delivered in the first jet within three years of securing the defense project.