Friday, February 23, 2018

Govt scraps single-engine fighter plan, asks IAF to go for wider competition

New Delhi:  The government has scrapped its two-year-old plan to produce 114 single-engine fighters with foreign collaboration under the “Make in India” framework, at an estimated cost of Rs 1.15 lakh crore (almost $18 billion), amid the political slugfest between BJP and Congress + over the Rs 59,000 crore contract for 36 French Rafale jets.
Top sources said the defence ministry (MoD) has directed IAF, down to just 31 fighter squadrons (each with 18 jets) now when at least 42 are required for the “collusive threat” from Pakistan and China, to come up with a new proposal that will take both single and twin-engine fighters into account.
“The original plan placed an unnecessary restriction on only single-engine fighters, which limited the competition to just two jets (American F-16 and Swedish Gripen-E). The aim is to increase the contenders and avoid needless allegations later,” said a source.
Incidentally, F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin had joined hands with Tata Advance Defence Systems Ltd, while Swedish aviation major SAAB tied-up with the Adani Group in anticipation of the mega project to produce the fighters in India under MoD’s ‘strategic partnership’ policy, as was earlier reported by TOI.
23/02/18 Rajat Pandit/Times of India