New Delhi: After scrapping its tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), the Indian Air Force (IAF) is now scouting for single-engined jets and has sought information from global aviation majors for this.
Lockheed Martin (LM) received the request last Friday and responded to it on Monday, a company official said on Friday.
Swedish aviation major Saab and US aviation giant Boeing have also been approached as the IAF looks to replace its obsolete Soviet-era single-engined MiG-21s that have been dubbed “flying coffins” due to their frequent crashes.
Boeing does not have a single-engined aircraft to offer and Saab will be soon be responding with its latest Gripen NG.
Jan Widerstrom of Saab India said in a statement: “Saab AB has received the request. We are happy to declare that we view this request in a very positive way and we will formally respond to it.”
Sources in the industry suggest that India may purchase more than 100 aircraft.
This would make up for the aircraft that could not be acquired due to the scrapped tender as the IAF has already signed a $9 billion contract to acquire 36 Rafale jets from Dasault Aviation of France.
Speaking to IANS, the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Major said: ” If indeed there is letter issued by IAF asking for information on single engine aircraft, then it is to asses the possibility of the Make in India project to supplement the (indegenous) Tejas (light combat aircraft) which is being manufactured in India.”
“Single engine does make sense, both in terms of category and role played by the MiG- 21s. It make sense to have fourth generation single-engined aircraft to supplement the Tejas production line. These are proven aircraft and it will be easy to establish a production line in India,” Major added.
The Rafale, the Gripen and the F-16 were in contention for the scrapped IAF tender. The Gripen and F-16 were the only single-engined aircraft in the fray.
Thus, sources said that finalising this deal may not take very long.