London: With India seeking more than 300 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF), the British offer of the Eurofighter Typhoon is expected to be part of discussions when during UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s first ever meeting with Prime Minister Modi next week. Britain is part of the European consortium producing the Eurofighter Typhoon.
It may be recalled that in 2015, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron had offered the Eurofighter Typhoon and help Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) develop worldclass fighter jets in India as part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
The Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Aviation Rafale were short-listed by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2011 as part of its medium multi-role combat aircraft competition (MMRCA), but Rafale was finally announced as the preferred bidder in 2011. Though the MMRCA request for proposal (RFP) was scrapped eventually last year, India recently signed an agreement with the French company to buying 36 Rafale combat aircraft off the shelf.
Sources told FE, “No decision has been firmed up for the kind of fighter planes India wants for the IAF — single-engine or twin-engine. This leaves scope for all aerospace majors to look at the Indian market again. Three companies have already made presentations to the government and have expressed willingness to transfer technology and to make in India.”
In 2011, six contenders for the MMRCA including the Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60, Swedish Saab Gripen, and Russian RSK MiG-35, had undergone exhaustive trials.
At the end of the trials, the IAF made its choice clear to the government on the kind of fighter jets it needs. The frontrunners were the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Rafale.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, multi-role canard-delta air-superiority fighter aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of European aerospace manufacturers through Eurofighter GmbH. On offer was the Tranche-3 Typhoon for the Indian requirement, equipped with the CAESAR AESA radar.
Besides the Eurofighter, the visiting leader is expected to talk about the existing defence programmes between the two countries including the BAE Systems and a Mahindra group tie-up for the assembling of M-777 guns.
According to the official MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, “Prime minister of UK Theresa May would be visiting India during November 6-8, 2016. This is her first bilateral visit outside the EU. She will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
May, along with Modi, will inaugurate the India-UK Tech Summit on November 7 in New Delhi. The decision to hold the India-UK Tech Summit was agreed to during the visit of Modi to UK in November 2015.
The Summit is being organised by the Department of Science and Technology and CII, and it demonstrates the importance and expanse of science and technology cooperation in India-UK partnership. At the summit, government officials, business leaders and scientists will engage to see how best S&T collaboration could be leveraged to open up new opportunities for bilateral business, trade and investment. New initiatives on deepening science and technology collaboration between India and UK will be announced at the Summit.
Also, a meeting of the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), chaired by MOS for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman and UK secretary of state for international trade Liam Fox, will be held during the visit.