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India may increase foreign defense tender to 200 combat jets

RIA Novosti

24/08/2007 19:17 NEW DELHI, August 24 (RIA Novosti) - India could order another 80 aircraft in addition to the 126 fighters it wants for its Air Force, increasing the value of the deal to an estimated $16 billion, a Defense Ministry official said Friday.

India announced last month its largest-ever international tender for 126 multi-role combat aircraft, estimated at $9-10 billion. Experts say the additional planes will help India meet its needs for modern aircraft to replace its obsolete fleet of mostly Russian-built MiG-21 Fishbed and MiG-23 Flogger models.

Award criteria for the tender require that the aircraft must stay in service for 40 years with a full maintenance and service package. The supplier will also transfer to India the license and production technology.

Principal bidders include the Russian Mig-35, the French Dassault Rafale, the U.S. F-16 and F/A 18 Super Hornet, the Swedish Gripen, and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Although India has designed and flown its own modern fighter, the Tejas, its adoption has been delayed for at least another four years, according to Indian officials.

Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who previously served as defense minister, said in January that Moscow had a good chance of winning the Indian fighter tender with its MiG-35 aircraft.

Russia's MiG-35, an export version of the MiG-29M OVT (Fulcrum F) is a highly maneuverable air superiority fighter, which won high acclaim during the recent Le Bourget air show in France.

The fighter is powered by RD-33 OVT thrust vectoring engines. The RD-33 OVT engines provide superior maneuverability and enhance the fighter's performance in close air engagements.



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