India is all set to invite at least two global combat plane manufacturers to submit their expressions of interest to join hands with a major Indian aerospace company in the private sector to set up a plant in India for the manufacture of single-engine fighter jets that its Air Force is seeking to acquire.
With the Indian government finalising its Strategic Partners policy in May this year, it is only natural that this expectation has increased among those well-wishers of the Air Force wanting to see its combat fleet level growing to meet the threats from China and Pakistan, against whom India has fought four major wars in the 70 years since independence from British rule.
This development comes amidst reports that the Indian government is considering allowing for 76 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) under the direct route to those foreign firms willing to make combat planes in India in collaboration with an Indian major. If done, this will be a great boost to the aerospace sector in India, and good news for the Indian Air Force. The renewed FDI proposal would make it easier for any of the two contending foreign aircraft makers to willingly offer their best to India.
As is already known, the two competing firms for the Indian Air Force's requirement of around 200 single-engine planes are the American Lockheed Martin and the Swedish Saab. While Lockheed Martin is offering its F-16 Block 70, the latest version of the 1960s technology aircraft