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Leapfrog? Just A Chimera Chase

Leapfrog? Just A Chimera Chase

A reworked bid gifts India the prospect of owning 110 medium-role combat aircraft. Nevertheless, the IAF may be down to 15 squadrons by 2032.

Leapfrog? Just A Chimera Chase Leapfrog? Just A Chimera Chase

So, two decades after the Indian Air Force (IAF) projected a requirement for 126 medium-role combat aircraft (MRCA), we are back to the starting point. That journey had ended abruptly in 2012 when the government, after a laboured process, selected the Dassault Rafale and began negotiations for the purchase—only to have the succeeding Nar­endra Modi administration scrap the deal and dec­ide in 2014 to purchase only 36 Rafales off the shelf.

Last week, the IAF issued a request for information (RFI) for the purchase of 110 MRCA. Three-fourth of these will be single-­seaters and the balance twin-seat aircraft. Eighteen or so of the aircraft would be bought off the shelf. The rest would be ‘Made in India’ through a partnership between the manufacturer and a strategic partner. The fighters would add six squadrons to the IAF; the order could be worth between $9 billion and 15 billion.

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