Defence News: IAF will soon be checking out revised and upgraded F-16 and Gripen jet fighters for making a final choice for it’s latest make in India single engine fighter procurement. The deal, seen essential in filling up squadron shortages should see rise in IAF fighting numbers to counter threats in both east and west. Having already evaluated the jets in details for MMRCA contest, which gave Rafale a thumbs up, only a brief trial is expected. After the short trail we are expecting to see 120 jets order falling into the hands of the winning vendor through make in India route.
The total worth of the deal is estimated to be around $20 billion or Rs 1.3 lakh crore. “We have chosen the two planes based on evaluation done by us seven years ago. For the Make in India project, we will now hold trials of only those capabilities which they were found to be lacking in these aircraft in those days,” an IAF officer told Mail Today. At that time F-16 was not preferred due to design being at the last stages of development and no further expansion seen possible. Rafale did not have an AESA radar, which it has now.
New capabilities added to the MMRCA jets
Now it’s about the new technologies updates since the last competition and those will be tested more than anything else. The latest version of the F-16 known as Block 70 and the Gripen which acquired the advanced AESA radar would now be fully compliant to the requirements of IAF. “To test the new capabilities, there would a limited trial only and we are hoping to select and finalize the foreign partner within the next one year,” the IAF sources said.
IAF will replace it’s ageing fleet of the Russian MiG-series jets including the MiG-21s and the MiG-27s that it has in quite some numbers. Almost all the variants of the MiG-21s and MiG-27s would retire by the year 2025. Also the Navy is testing the American F-18 and the French Dassault for acquiring 57 twin-engine planes for its next aircraft carrier Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC). The IAF has 33 squadrons of fighter aircraft in its inventory, which includes mainly single-engine planes like MiG 21s and MiG 27s along with Su-30MKI, MiG 29 and Jaguar.
With Inputs from India Today