India sets ball rolling for Rs 13,000 cr Air Force deal

NEW DELHI (TIP): India has set the ball rolling for another mega defence deal by floating the global tender for over Rs 13,000-crore acquisition of 56 transport aircraft to replace the ageing Avro fleet of the Indian Air Force. The tender, or request for proposal (RFP), was issued to eight aviation majors, including Embraer, Lockheed Martin and Airbus, In the first such move to get Indian private companies to enter the military aviation sector, the RFP specifies that while 16 aircraft will be bought off-the-shelf from the foreign vendor, the remaining 40 will be manufactured in India by a private Indian Production Agency (IPA).

The foreign aviation company will select the IPA based on qualification criteria for the IPA stipulated in the RFP. Defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which dominates the Indian military aviation sector and is overburdened with fighter, helicopter and other projects, is being kept out of the project.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne had earlier held that IAF was keen to exploit the Indian private industry for the programme to replace ageing Avro aircraft. A defence ministry official said, “The project ensures inflow of production technology to the IPA in phases wherein the value addition in the manufacture by the IPA will gradually increase from 30% to 60%.”

“The IPA will also obtain the transfer of technology for maintenance, which will allow it to provide life time product support and maintenance up to the depot level. The project is aimed to provide the Indian private sector a unique opportunity to enter and enhance their traction in the Aerospace sector,” he added.

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