The Indian Air Force is now inching towards finalizing two long-pending 'Make in India' projects under which, it will acquire 170 aircraft.
The two projects, collectively valued at Rs. 1.5 lakh crore ($22bn), include a Tata-Airbus joint venture for 56 medium transport aircraft which will kick-off later this year, and the acquisition of 114 fighter jets, which is still at an early stage.
IAF seeks request for proposal for 114-fighter deal by 2019-20
For the 114-fighter project, the IAF is seeking the request for proposal (RFP) to be issued by late-2019 or early-2020, The Times of India reported. However, it might take several years for the IAF to get on with the selection process, sources told the publication.
Further, the source told TOI, "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," the source added.
Entire selection process will take at least five years: Source
The source stated the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQRs) have been finalized in the 114-fighter project and Defense Acquisitions Council (DAC) will be moved for 'acceptance of necessity' and issuance of RFP. However, "the entire selection process will take at least five years," they said.
Tata-Airbus joint venture for 56 aircraft nearly final
Meanwhile, the extensive trials and CNC (contract negotiations committee) for the Tata-Airbus venture for 56 twin-turboprop tactical C-295 aircraft are over, TOI reported. Airbus will supply the first 16 aircraft. The other 40 will be made in India over eight years.
"DAC this month will approve certain deviations before sending it to the cabinet committee on security for the final nod," the source said.
C-295s to replace Avro aircraft; take on AN-32's tasks
The C-295s, which will replace the older Avro aircraft, will also embrace some "tasks" for the AN-32 fleet, which witnessed two major accidents in the past: one where 42 personnel were killed in the Bay of Bengal, and another crash in Arunachal Pradesh in June.
C-295 has higher safety margins over oceans, mountains: Source
Speaking on the benefits of C-295s, the source told TOI, "The C-295 has higher safety margins for flying over oceans and mountainous terrain.
They added, "For instance, it has a very high single-engine drift down altitude... Even if one engine fails, it can maintain 17,000-18,000 feet altitude. The aircraft can also find buyers in the civil aviation sector."