New Delhi: The Indian Air Force has begun hunt for 114 fighter jets to enhance its operational capabilities. Air Forces said a formal Request for Information (RFI) will be issued in the next 2-3 weeks to begin the process of acquisition.
This will be done under the Strategic Partnership Model of the Narendra Modi government that aims at a synergy between foreign and Indian manufacturers to boost indigenisation in defence manufacture. “Of the 114 fighter jets, 16 will be flown from the country of origin, and the rest will be manufactured in Indian production lines set up here,” an Air Force officer said.
Speaking the annual press conference, Air Chief Birender Singh Dhanoa on Thursday said the full strength of 42 squadrons will be in place only by 2032. He added that despite the possibility of a two-front war with China and Pakistan in the current geopolitical scenario was low, the intention of the enemy can change overnight and one needs to be prepared for that.
“We need the strength of 42 squadrons for a two-front scenario. But we have a plan B to deal with any satiation. We are prepared to fight in a short notice,” he said. A squadron has 18-20 aircraft. Currently there are 30-32 squadrons, with many not having full strength. By 2019, five extra squadrons are expected to be part of the fleet, but with some being withdrawn the number will remain around 33 for some time, sources said. While 36 Rafale and Sukhoi jets will be part of the fleet by 2019, another 83 Light Combat Aircraft are expected to be inducted by 2020.