India might need 167 fighter jets worth more than Rupees 1 trillion, the order process for which could be completed in the next 12-18 months, a top executive at Mahindra Group said, as it prepares to bid for some of the military orders on the cards.
The Anand Mahindra-led Mahindra group recently tied up with The Boeing Co. and state-controlled Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to build a new assembly line for manufacturing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets.
“The (Indian) government has already come out with tender process for 110 fighter jets, and (Indian) navy also has requirement for another 57 jets. So total requirement appears to be 167 jets at this stage,” said S.P. Shukla, group president, aerospace, defence and steel, at Mahindra Group, and member group executive board.
“The government’s plans to place orders are likely to be valued over Rs 1 trillion” Shukla said, adding the supply of these fighter jets may be spread over three-seven years after the placement of orders, depending upon requirements and scheduling.
1 trillion rupees amounts to 16 billion dollars. But actual value of the deal including weapons, spares and off-sets may go higher. India last year had inked a deal worth 8.7 billion dollars with France for the supply of 36 Rafales.
Boeing and Mahindra seek to build an entirely new state-of-the-art production facility and develop an ecosystem around it that can be utilized for other programmes like India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program, Boeing had said in a statement earlier this month.
The government has come out with Request for Information (RFI) for the fighter jets, which will be followed by Request for Proposal (RFP), product evaluation process, and opening of commercial bidding, Shukla said.
Shukla said government tenders and requirements don’t always lead to the exact same number of purchases.
“Hence, what we are talking about is estimated requirements and not the exact order sizes,” he said.
The joint venture to produce F/1-18 Super Hornet fighter jets will keep its costs competitive in order to win the bid, Shukla added.
India’s immediate requirement had been single engine aircrafts for which only Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Super Viper and Saab JAS 39 Gripen could be in fray. But News agency Bloomberg had in February reported that India is planning to revise the specifications for one of the world’s biggest fighter jet orders, a move that would allow manufacturers such as Boeing and United Aircraft Corp. to pitch their twin-engine combat aircraft.
The report, quoting unnamed officials, added that the government has asked the Indian Air Force if the search for fighter
jets could be expanded to include twin-engine aircraft.
The Bloomberg news report stated the country’s armed forces would require as many as 400 single- and double engine combat aircraft.
Article Written by Gagandeep Singh