Indian Navy had issued a detailed request for information in January this year for 57 multi-role fighter aircraft to which Russian, French, Swedish and American companies had replied with their intent.
With an eye on a big ticket deal involving supply of 57 naval multi-role fighter jet for Indian Navy's aircraft carriers, Russian manufacturer MiG has offered to jointly develop the MiG 29 K fighter jets with an Indian counterpart under the 'Make in India' program with complete transfer of technology. MiG is planning to submit a detailed proposal to the Indian government in this regard soon.
The procurement plan currently is in request for information stage. MiG CEO Ilya Tarasenko has claimed MiG-29K aircraft have serious tactical and technical advantages compared to Boeing’s F/A-18.
“We are considering various options for long-term and perspective cooperation, including those within the framework of the Make in India program. The Indian side has sent an RFI to companies that produce aircraft, which is one of the procedures preceding the official tender. MiG corp. has received such a request, now we are preparing our proposal,” Ilya Tarasenko, MiG CEO told to PTI in a written interview.
Earlier, American Boeing, Swedish SAAB and French Dassault Aviation had also proposed setting up production lines in India for their respective naval fighters — F/A18, Gripen E and Rafale if they were to bag the contract.
“Russia has a strong case for fielding upgraded MiG-29K for the Indian Navy's MRCBF requirement for several reasons. The aircraft is already in Indian Navy service and has a lot of commonality with IAF MiG-29UPG. Rosboronexport is sprucing up support facilities for the MiG-29 family in India. Improving, indigenizing MiG-29K would yield greater operational dividend at lower cost than buying Rafale or F/A-18,” Vijainder K Thakur, former squadron leader of Indian Air Force told Sputnik.
Presently, 45 Russian-made MiG-29K aircraft are the sole fighters on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. Apart from this, Indian Air Force is also operating more than a hundred fighter jets manufactured by Russian MiG.
“MiG-29K Make-in-India would positively impact the operational effectiveness of both the IAF and IN MiG-29 fleets because of large commonality of equipment. Improving, indigenizing MiG-29K would also serve better the government's Make-in-India initiative, limit inventory and minimize training costs,” Thakur added.
A brand new naval variant equipped with new weapons and sensors, MiG-29K was part of the recent Malabar exercise involving the navies of India, the US and Japan. The US Navy said it was impressed by the power displayed MiG 29 during the exercise.
The intended 57 multi-role fighter jets would be used for air defense, air-to-surface operations, buddy refueling, reconnaissance, and EW missions from Indian Naval aircraft carriers Vikramaditya and IAC-1.