File photo of a Tejas fighter during static display at the Singapore Air Show

In the 114 multi-role fighter aircraft (MRFA) program, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is working towards manufacturing 114 planes within the country under the Buy Global Make in India route.

“Work is already going on the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS and the 5th Generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft project. The 114 MRFA project would also be required by the IAF to maintain an edge over both the northern and western adversaries. We would prefer to go for the ‘Buy Global Make in India’ route, which is preferred by the vendors who are also expected to take part in the program,” defence sources told India Today.

In the race are three American aircraft, including the F-18, F-15, and F-21 (modified version of the F-16), Russian MiG-35 and Su-35 along with the French Rafale, Swedish Saab Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon. The Indian Air Force had also sought the views of these companies on the acquisition procedure that they would like to opt for in the program and most of them have shown a preference for the Buy Global Make in India route only, they said.

The sources said that the force has also sought directions from the government on the project and when it can move the project for clearance from the Defence Ministry for further action.

An official said, “The two squadrons of the Rafale combat aircraft were fully functional with 35 aircraft which have already arrived from France and only one plane is left for delivery.” Sources said the IAF would certainly require a capability that is being provided by Rafale and more planes would be required as the two squadrons had only met the emergency requirements of the force.

The sources said, “The two Rafale squadrons played a major role in containing the situation after the Chinese started aggression in the Northern sector in Ladakh and were operationalised within a few weeks of their arrival and induction into the IAF.” The sources said the 83 TEJAS MK-1A would help the IAF replace the MiG-series planes like the MiG-23 and the MiG-27 have already been phased out and the MiG-21s are also on the verge of being phased out.