The Indian Air Force (IAF) is cutting down its largest fighter jet procurement programme by half and has indicated the likelihood of a change in the procurement model to one which is more acceptable to foreign suppliers for compliance to Make in India requirements in view of the reduced numbers.
BW Businessworld has learnt from highly placed sources that the estimated $20 Billion Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) procurement programme for 114 foreign jets is being shrunk to the acquisition of 57 jets through a global competition.
The original proposal to make these jets in India under the ambitious Strategic Partnership (SP) Model is set to be dumped and the shrunken programme is likely to be rebooted under the Buy Global (Make in India) category of the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020, sources elaborated. All the 57 fighters will be made in India with the transfer of technology from the foreign OEM to an Indian company.
The cutback is mainly on account of the Government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) policy directive to minimize Defence imports and build up a domestic Defence Industrial complex instead to meet military requirements. A renewed drive is afoot to commit most of the capital budget for Defence modernization to domestic sources. Even the Indian Navy requirement for imported deck-borne fighters was reduced from 57 to 26. The cutback on the MRFA and the Navy fighters is both an opportunity and challenge for the domestic industry to make up the numbers.