The Indian Navy will soon begin examining quotes it received from four global manufacturers for 57 multirole combat aircraft. Dassault Aviation, Boeing, SAAB and Rosoboronexport have responded to the global request for information (RFI) issued in January this year.
Apart from some basic guidelines for procurement, the Indian Navy had sought answers on a range of issues like electronic warfare capability, endurance and payload. The Navy is also desirous of licensed production of the aircraft after acquiring transfer of technology in the case."We have received the reply from all the four to whom RFI had been issued. Now, we will examine the RFI and will take it forward," Admiral Sunil Lanba, Indian Navy chief said on Wednesday.
Multi-role fighters are intended as day-night capable; all-weather multi-role deck based combat aircraft which can be used for air defense, air-to-surface operations, buddy refueling, reconnaissance, and EW missions from Indian Naval aircraft carriers. Solicitation issued on January had asked global vendors if it can perform Short Take-off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) or Catapult Take-off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) operations, or both.Swedish SAAB is pitching its single engine Sea Gripen which has capability to operate from both STOBAR/CATOBAR while Russian upgraded MiG-29K can operate from STOBAR. Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Dassault's Rafale M are also in the fray for approximately $15 billion contract.
Indian Navy is expected to issue the tender soon following the go-ahead signal from the government. "Hopefully, we will select and shall have deck-based carrier airborne fighter in next 4-5 years," Admiral Lanba added.
The selected aircraft will operate from indigenously developed IAC-1 aircraft carrier which will be conventional ski jump based STOBAR layout and INS Vikramaditya.
"The IAC-1 which is under-construction at the moment is going as per the timeline and she will start her trial in 2019, we will take delivery in 2020," Admiral Lanba said.