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India Seeks Local Fighter Planes As Stalls Abroad | India News


NEW DELHI: India plans to switch to locally manufactured fighter jets, two years after asking global companies to submit proposals to supply 114 fighter jets in the world’s largest fighter jet contract.

The country’s air force is finalizing plans to induce locally manufactured, light combat aircraft, Texas, to increase the capacity of its aging combat aircraft fleet, Chief of Defense Staff Bipin Rawat said in an interview in New Delhi. It will buy an additional 83 planes, plus a previous deal for 40 planes, for $ 6 billion, he said.

“The Indian Air Force is changing that to the LCA,” Rawat said, when asked about the global aircraft tender. “The IAF is saying, I would rather take the indigenous fighter, it is good.”

The decision is a setback for people like Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and Saab AB who were in the race for the $ 15 billion request and another sign that India is ditching expensive foreign defense purchases that have been plagued by delays. bureaucratic and funding crunch. Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week stressed the need to buy local products to boost an economy hit by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Little military purchase

Also read: PM Modi appeals to people to support local products

“Since it has been decided to go the indigenous route, the Ministry of Defense must guarantee the increase in capacity” at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the builder of the plane, said Manmohan Bahadur, additional general director of the Center for Air Power Studies based in New Delhi. . “The IAF, like the other services, has to maintain the required advantage over our adversaries: Emotions must be avoided.”

Aircraft induction will help India emerge as a key defense exporter due to its “relatively low price,” Rawat said in his New Delhi office. Several countries may be interested in purchasing the aircraft once they see them in operation with the air force.

The process to purchase fighter jets began more than a decade ago. India scrapped a long-awaited order with Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafales worth $ 11 billion in 2015, but has since bought 36 of the planes to expedite replacement of older planes.

In April 2018, India launched a global tender seeking answers from global manufacturers to buy 114 aircraft. The deal drew initial offers from global giants such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Saab AB of Sweden and the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30Mki and Su-35. At least 85% of production was to be in India, according to the initial document.

While New Delhi is the world’s third largest military spender, its air force, navy, and army are still equipped with weapons that are largely obsolete.

Local production

The change to indigenous fighters marks a change to start using locally manufactured weapons, Rawat said. Defense forces will use many more domestically produced products, and there is an understanding that there may be some quality problems at first, but these will improve, he said.

“Artillery weapons, air defense systems and radars will also be indigenous systems. We are doing well with artillery weapons and air defense systems,” he added. “We are also looking at munitions manufacturing in our country in a big way.”

Modi had made clear his intention to reduce India’s dependence on foreign-made weapons platforms shortly after taking over as leader in 2014, but progress has not been remarkable.

India desperately needs new planes to replace old planes from the Soviet era. It needs around 42 squadrons of fighters to defend its western and northern borders at the same time, but it makes up for only 31 squadrons only. By 2022, he is likely to add two more squadrons of the Rafale fighter.

While the IAF supports the indigenous combat program, there are a number of technical issues, including faster delivery schedules and quality issues that have yet to be resolved. According to plans, the 123 Texas fighters are to be followed by the Mark-II variant, who are middleweight fighters. The test flight for the next generation of Texas aircraft is likely in 2022.

The United States, China, and India were the world’s top three military spenders in 2019, followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia. The two Asian countries made it to the top three for the first time according to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. For fiscal year 2020-21, India has allocated $ 66.9 billion for defense, but budget cuts are imminent due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Times of India