New Delhi (Sputnik) — India plans to replace all these aircraft with a foreign manufacturer setting up shop for a single-engine combat jet. The locally made Tejas, a single jet fighter, will also make up the numbers.
India has drawn up plans for a global tender to select a new single engine fighter aircraft that will be locally manufactured under an extensive technology transfer contract. Sources told Sputnik that apart from the indigenous Tejas aircraft, the Government will invite bids for 200 new single engine fighter aircraft once it finalizes the guidelines for choosing a strategic partner. Strategic Partnership is a concept to select the right Indian private company to jointly execute certain types of high-value defense items. India's Defense Ministry expects the Strategic Partnership guidelines to be finalized this month.
"The second production line of single-engine aircraft is required for which we are thinking of using the strategic partnership soon once the guidelines are finalized. During the current year, the decision, tendering and closure should tentatively be over," Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said in New Delhi.
Sources close to the Defense Ministry said that selection of an Indian partner is unlikely to be completed anytime soon.
"Selecting an Indian partner will be very cumbersome process even if the guidelines are well written," a source added.
Currently, the Indian Air Force has 34 fighter jet squadrons (18-20 aircraft per squadron) which is eight squadrons short of the anticipated strength to fight a two-front war with Pakistan and China.