India to soon produce F-16s or Gripens under new model; What will happen to LCA Tejas?

Saab Gripen NG/E

Saab Gripen NG/E

Aditya Bhat, International Business Times, January 4 2017.

Move over, LCA Tejas, India is gearing up to produce a second line of single-engine fighter aircraft under a new process called “Strategic Partnership” model.

“The second line of single engine aircraft is also required, for which we are thinking of using the Strategic Partnership soon, once the chapter is finalised. During the current year, the decision, tendering and closure should tentatively be over,” said defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who made the announcement on Tuesday, IANS reported.

The new domestically produced aircraft will be based on a new model called, Strategic Partnership, which will soon be finalised as the discussions on this are in the “final stage.” He also said that the details will be known by the end of January.

He also promised that the team will meet “sometime next week and expect results very soon.”

Selection criteria

According to Parrikar, the aircraft would be selected based on the cost and extent of technology transfer.

A competitive bidding process will decide the price and local partners, but the final deal will be with the government (something like what India did with France for buying Rafales).

“Government to government agreement will be a protective umbrella agreement, while the actual dealing will be with the company,” said Parrikar

F-16 vs Gripen

The Indian defence ministry has already detailed that the selection will be based on the US’ Lockheed Martin F-16 and Sweden’s SAAB company, which makes Gripen fighters. It also has detailed an offer from Boeing that makes the twin-engined F/A-18.

Lockheed Martin has said it is offering Block 70 version of the F-16. SAAB has offered its latest Gripen E fighter to India.

F-16 Block 70

F-16 Block 70

No more Rafale fighter jets

Parrikar dismissed reports claiming India was thinking of buying more Rafale twin-engine fighter aircraft. India has already signed a deal for 36 Rafale jets with France in a government-to-government deal. The media speculation was due to a recent statement by the former Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha where he said the Air Force will need more aircraft in that category.

What will happen to LCA Tejas?

Parrikar has clearly stated that LCA Tejas production line won’t be affected, but the government is looking to increase the capacity to produce 16 aircraft a year.

In November 2016, Parrikar had approved the procurement of 83 LCA Tejas Mark 1As for Rs 48,000 crore.

LCA HAL Tejas

LCA HAL Tejas

 

 

3 responses to “India to soon produce F-16s or Gripens under new model; What will happen to LCA Tejas?

  1. India is like someone who is desperately trying not to admit their beloved pet needs to be put to sleep. I know that sounds like a harsh analogy but honestly I have been following the Tejas program for over a decade and a half and I just can’t see what use it will be. The IAF seem determined to buy up high performance aircraft from abroad while Indian industry chooses to buy-in. The Tejas has taken a very long time to develop and unlike the F16 or Gripen it remains an unproven machine. Also, performance figures published put it somewhere in a class sandwiched between the MiG 21 Bison and the Gripen C. You can argue that it has export potential but China seems to be swallowing up those opportunities. I can’t help but feel the Tejas is a bit of a folly.

    • They are certainly stoically clinging onto the project, it’s development has been glacially slow. I’ve been researching performance figures, development costs and looking at opinions on news sites and forums for a week now, and the Indian government and people seem at best apologetic and at worst embarrassed at the fact that they have put out a tender for yet another LCA programme. The Pakistani aircraft industry are scratching their heads, one source rather gamely offered the Indian’s the FT-17 Thunder. The offer was bluntly turned down. Thanks for your input mate.

      • Your welcome mate. The IAF really needed the Tejas 10-12 years ago to clear out their stocks of Soviet era aircraft and to hold the line until the new generation of aircraft came online. Sadly, it seems the Indian government are as bad as the UK when it comes to muddling through defence procurement.

        This story resembles Indian tank development. The only reason the Indian Army has the T72 is because they had to buy something quickly back in the 80s because their own tank projects were far too ambitious for the time and constantly delayed.

        Saab must be playing this one carefully. They did offer the JA37 Viggen back in the 70s for the anti ship role but lost out to Agave radar equipped Jags. I think the Gripen is a strong contender since it has firmly established itself on the world stage and is more of an LCA than the Falcon.

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