India has started accepting bids for the 'world's largest' fighter jet deal after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nod to replace the ageing fleet of Indian Air Force's combat aircraft. This major step has been taken to enhance India's defence capabilities.
Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said that evaluation of the initial offers and finalising IAF's requirements has begun, according to Bloomberg.
The deal, involving 114 fighter jets worth $15 billion, has attracted offers from major defence manufacturing companies, including Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Sweden's Saab AB. Bloomberg reported that India is insisting for 85 per cent of the production to be made in the country.
Naik revealed that documents for other defence purchases, including tanks and armoured vehicles, have also been drafted. Projects such as partnerships with foreign shipbuilders for indigenous defence manufacturing of submarines have been officially tabled as well.
On Monday, the Ministry of Defence told seven Indian Navy shipyards to submit Request for Proposal (RFP) for constructing six warship worth Rs 15,000 crore. The Navy has pushed for submarines and patrol ships to counter Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The Indian Air Force and Navy reportedly require 400 single and double-engine combat aircraft, according to the government.
As the country shares geopolitical boundaries with Pakistan and China, and holds the position of the second-largest standing army in the world (after China), necessary strengthening of its defence capabilities has been considered for years.
The country's defence budget in this year's interim budget was Rs 4.31 trillion, which analysts have said is not enough to make the defence capability ready for modern warfare.