India Mulls Rafale or Gripen Combat Aircraft Over F-16
India is looking to fully produce and own the technology behind its next round of fighter jets to be produced in the country.
NEW DELHI (Sputnik) – In what could be a difficult road ahead for US manufacturers Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha will prefer the company that would not only set up its production line in India but would also be ready to transfer technology. During Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar's visit to the US in August, Boeing and Lockheed Martin made official proposals to manufacture F/A-18 and F-16s respectively under the "Make in India" campaign.
Air Chief Marshal Raha said that companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and SAAB had offered to set up manufacturing units for combat aircraft in India.
India and France have already signed an intergovernmental agreement for 36 Rafale combat aircraft. The first Rafale is expected to be inducted into Indian Air Force by 2019.
"Any air force would be proud to have aircraft of the Rafale class, which is in the mid-weight category. A decision on more numbers of Rafale jets will be taken in the near future which would be based on its capability," said Raha.
Raha said that Sweden's Gripen fighter aircraft is a good fighter as compared to others like the F-16, but their final decision will take into consideration whomever gives the best deal, the capabilities and the transfer of technology.
Earlier in June this year, Raha inspected the SAAB production facility in Linkoping, Sweden. SAAB offered to develop, manufacture and undertake the final assembly of its Gripen E fighter jet in India. The Indian Air Force currently has 33 active fighter squadrons.
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