After signing the Rafale deal India has kick-started its process to acquire single-engine fighter jets.
Last week the Ministry of Defence had issued request information for acquiring single-engine fighter jets. India is looking to acquire these jets to replace their old warhorse the MIG-21’s. Rafale jets are double-engine jets.
There are primarily three manufacturers of these single-engine fighter jets who could be in the race – Lockheed Martin which manufactures the F-16’s, Boeing which makes Super Hornets and Swedish Saab that manufactures Gripen.
CNBC-TV18 learns from sources that a team from Lockheed Martin in the US will be in India to meet senior officials at the defence ministry. They have also sought a meeting with the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and hope to meet officials in the Prime Minister’s office as well.
During these meetings the company will suggest manufacturing the F-16’s in India. They are also likely to state that once India’s requirements are met, then with government approval in future, they would be willing to export these to other countries and thereby make India and export hub for the company.
If this happens, it could give a big boost to the local suppliers.
However, a similar promise is likely to be made by Saab too – they have already said that they are willing to shift their manufacturing base to India.
Boeing, too, is expected to make similar promises.