SAAB and Rosoboronexport will also show their capabilities during the trial to the Indian Navy which has detailed its requirement for the naval fighter in a 55-page RFI, sources said. The four manufacturers had responded to the global RFI issued by the Indian Navy in January this year.
Multi-role fighters are intended as day-night capable, all-weather deck-based combat aircraft which can be used for air defense, air-to-surface operations, buddy refueling, reconnaissance, and EW missions from Indian aircraft carriers. The Indian Navy is keen to get the aircraft manufactured via license production after acquiring transfer of technology in the case.
Selected aircraft will operate from indigenously developed IAC-1 aircraft carrier which will be conventional ski jump-based short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) layout and INS Vikramaditya. The IAC 1 which is under construction is expected to go for trial in 2019. Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said in May this year that all the companies to whom RFI had been issued had replied.
The Swedish SAAB is pitching its single engine Sea Gripen while Russia’s upgraded MiG 29K is another contender of the tender. The Indian Navy is expected to issue tender soon following the go-ahead from the government. “Hopefully, we will select and shall have deck-based carrier airborne fighter in next 4-5 years,” Admiral Lanba had told reporters.