Indian Govt offers to buy 200 foreign combat jets but only if they are made in India : Government of India is offering to buy around 200 fighter planes from foreign manufacturers but on condition that the jets are made in India and with a local partner. Experts say that a deal for 200 single-engine planes produced in India could be worth from US $13 to US $15 billion, potentially one of the country’s biggest military aircraft deals.
The Indian Air Force(IAF) is trying to speed up other acquisitions and arrest a fall in operational strength after a deal to buy high-end Rafale planes from France, now a third less than required to face both China and Pakistan.
But the administration of PM Narendra Modi wants any further military planes to be built in India with an Indian partner to kickstart a domestic aircraft industry and end an expensive addiction to imports.
Lockheed Martin said that it is interested in setting up a production line for its F-16 plane in India for not just the Indian military, but also for export.
Another government said that the Defence ministry has written to several companies asking if they would be willing to set up an assembly line for single-engine fighter planes in India and the amount of technology transfer that would happen.
Jet Makers Respond
Sweden’s Saab said that it was ready to not only produce its front line Gripen fighter in India, but also help in build a local aviation industry base.
Chairman and MD of Saab India Technologies – Jan Widerstrom said that we are very experienced in transfer of technology. Our way of working involves extensive cooperation with our partners to establish a complete ecosystem.
He confirmed that Saab had received the letter from the Indian government seeking a fourth generation fighter.
Lockheed Martin said that it had responded to the letter of Defence ministry with an offer to transfer the entire production of its F-16 fighter to India.
National Executive for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Business Development in India – Abhay Paranjape said in an email that F-16 production in India would make India home to the world’s only F-16 production facility, a leading exporter of advanced fighter aircraft, and offer Indian industry the opportunity to become an integral part of the world’s largest fighter aircraft supply chain.
Previously, India has never attempted to build a modern aircraft production line, whether civilian or military. State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd(HAL) has assembled Russian combat jets including the Su-30, but these are under licensed production.
A former Adviser at HAL – Retired Indian Air Marshal M. Matheswaran said that we have never had control over technology. A full or a near-full tech transfer lays the ground for further development.
He further said that the Government of India would be looking at producing at least 200 fighters and then probably some more, to make up for the decades of delay in modernising the air force.