India MRCA warplane contest
July 24, 2018 -- Six plane makers are bidding to supply 110 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) to the Indian Air Force, to replace its ageing fleet of MiG-21s and MiG-27s, in a deal that could be worth as much as $15 billion.
The aircraft must be built mainly in India as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign. Making parts and assembling the jets with Indian strategic partners will build a domestic defence industry that can supply more of India’s needs and even export weapons to other nations.
U.S. defence contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin are eager to win business from a country that has historically chosen Russian and European suppliers.
Lockheed, with India’s Tata Advanced Systems, has offered to move its entire F-16 Block 70 production line from Greenville, South Carolina, to India and make it the only plant worldwide to produce the latest, advanced F-16 for not only India but also other countries.
Boeing is to team up with India’s only company that manufactures combat fighters, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) to produce its carrier-capable F/A-18 Super Hornet multi-role fighter aircraft locally.
In addition to competition from the Russians, whose MiG planes are the mainstay of the Indian Air Force, the American companies will face stiff competition from European manufacturers seeking the contract.
Sweden’s Saab has struck a partnership with the Adani Group to assemble its single-engine Gripen warplane, while Dassault Aviation, which makes the twin-engine Rafale, has chosen Reliance Defence as its local partner.
The Eurofighter Typhoon and Russian MiG-35 aircraft are also potential contenders.