Swedish aerospace company SAAB has announced its intent to submit a proposal featuring 114 advanced Gripen-E fighter aircraft as part of its response to the upcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) from the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The Indian Air Force is on a lookout for 114 cutting-edge multi-role fighters (MRFA) to augment its depleting fighter strength.
SAAB has proposed the Gripen-E, a single-engine multi-role fighter jet, to fulfil this requirement, in a X post.
Under the contract, the participating companies are expected to provide advanced multi-role fighter jets capable of roles such as ground attack, air interdiction, close air support, and air dominance.
The IAF aims to manufacture a significant number of fighters in a new production line in India, which will also involve a substantial technology transfer (ToT) component.
The Gripen-E is a state-of-the-art fighter is versatile jet capable of operating from austere airbases.
It features enhanced connectivity, providing exceptional situational awareness. The jet is equipped with a dedicated electronic warfare suite and an advanced active electronically scanned array radar (AESA).
The AESA radar, along with the European Meteor missile, grants the jet exceptional air-defence capability. The IAF already operates Meteor missiles on the 36 French Dassault Rafales acquired in 2016.
Apart from SAAB, five other foreign manufacturers are also in the competition.
The US manufacturer Boeing is offering F-15EX heavy fighter jets. Another US-based manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, is competing with the F-16 Block-70 (an advanced version of the F-16 already in operation by the Pakistan Air Force).
French Dassault is offering its Rafales, Britain its Eurofighter Typhoons, and Russia its Su-35.
Since the IAF already operates the French Dassault Rafale, there is a high chance of the jet securing the contract.
Furthermore, the Indian Navy’s announcement of acquiring 26 Rafale-M jets for operation from its aircraft carrier INS Vikrant has improved its prospects of winning the contract.
The likelihood of IAF purchasing the Gripen-E jet in the competition is quite low.
This is due to the fact that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) are currently working on the development of a single-engine TEJAS MK-2, which falls within the same weight class as the Gripen-E.
Operating two aircraft of the same weight class, both powered by the same American General Electric (GE) F414 jet engine, could have a negative impact on the TEJAS MK-2 development program.
Furthermore, twin-engine fighters like the F-15EX, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, and Russian Su-35 offer longer range, superior kinematics, and greater payload capability compared to the single-engine Gripen-E.
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