HomeIndian DefenceMRFA chances fading, while indigenous fighter programs like Tejas Mk2 and AMCA...

MRFA chances fading, while indigenous fighter programs like Tejas Mk2 and AMCA gaining attraction

Source : IgMp Bureau

In a dynamic turn of events, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is gaining momentum with the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA) program, seeking crucial approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Simultaneously, the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) aspirations to acquire 114 jets through the Medium Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) tender are encountering persistent delays.

MRFA chances fading, while indigenous fighter programs like Tejas Mk2 and AMCA gaining attraction

MRFA chances fading, while indigenous fighter programs like Tejas Mk2 and AMCA gaining attraction

AMCA’s Stride Toward Advancement

Led by the Aeronautical Development Authority (ADA), the AMCA program has reached a pivotal juncture with the finalization of the design for the fifth-generation stealth fighter. The DRDO is actively pursuing CCS approval, propelling the program into its next phase.

MRFA Challenges: A Stumbling Block

In stark contrast, the MRFA tender, devised to secure multi-role fighter jets from a foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM), grapples with prolonged delays and intricacies. With an estimated cost of approximately $20 billion, the tender has yet to attain the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) stage, a prerequisite before issuing the Request for Proposal (RFP).

IAF authorities engage in deliberations with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to chart the course for the beleaguered MRFA tender. The program faces dwindling prospects amid India’s heightened focus on nurturing indigenous fighter jet capabilities.

Shifting Focus: Indigenous Fighter Jets Take Center Stage

Having secured CCS clearance last year, the Tejas MkII program sets a precedent, and the AMCA program is poised to receive similar approval by mid-2024. As attention pivots towards fostering homegrown fighter jets, the MRFA tender contends with diminishing prospects.

Insiders familiar with the MRFA program intimate that the IAF may need to confront the reality and contemplate abandoning the tender. An alternative strategy involves bolstering the production of Dassault Rafale fighter jets locally, including the 26 Rafale M jets earmarked for the Navy.

Dassault’s Proposal and Negotiations

Dassault proposes assuming complete ownership of Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL) and establishing a fighter manufacturing facility in India catering to both the IAF and export markets. However, the caveat is Dassault’s insistence on 100% ownership of DRAL.

While the MoD and IAF might settle for a reduced number of Rafale jets, potentially adding four additional squadrons to the IAF’s arsenal in the next four to five years, Dassault seeks a firm order commitment before progressing with the DRAL acquisition.

The MRFA tender’s destiny hangs in the balance as the IAF grapples with the pivotal decision: to pursue foreign fighter jet acquisitions or prioritize the indigenous AMCA’s development and production.

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Aatmanirbhar Bharat


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