In a most important boost to the Make in India initiative, the Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to construct around one hundred advanced fighter jets in India, for which it has begun talks with the international plane manufacturers.
The Aatmanirbhar push will, for the first time, see Indian foreign money being used to make payments for nearly 70% cost of the project.
The Indian Air Force has plans of acquiring 114 Multirole Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) under the ‘Buy Global and Make in India’ scheme under which Indian companies would be allowed to partner with a foreign vendor.
Recently, the Indian Air Force held meetings with foreign vendors and asked them about the way they would carry out the Make in India project.
As per the plan, after the initial 18 aircraft are imported, the next 36 aircraft would be manufactured within the country and the payments would be made partially in foreign currency and Indian currency.
The last 60 aircraft would be the main responsibility of the Indian partner and the government would make payments only in Indian currency. The payment in Indian currency would help the vendors to achieve the over 60% ‘Make-in-India’ content in the project.
The Indian Air Force has to rely heavily on these 114 fighter jets for maintaining its superiority over the neighbouring rivals Pakistan and China.
The 36 Rafale aircraft procured under emergency orders helped immensely in maintaining an edge over the Chinese during the Ladakh crisis which started in 2020 but the numbers are not enough and more such capability would be required by it.
The force has already placed orders for 83 of the LCA Mk 1A aircraft but it still requires a higher number of capable aircraft as a large number of MiG series planes have either been phased out or are on their last legs.
The IAF is also looking for a cost-effective solution for its fighter jet requirement as it wants a plane that is low on operational cost and gives more capability to the service.
The IAF is highly satisfied with the operational availability of the Rafale fighter jets and wants similar capability in its future aircraft.