As the Indian Air Force gears up for 114 medium fighter aircraft initiation, the Indian Navy pitched joint participation in the tender to fulfill its demand of 36 Carrierborne combat aircraft, The Hindu reported. merging two separate floated requests into one mega-deal of acquisition. The decision comes after procurement numbers got reduced from the previous 57 to 36 to favor Indigenous platforms by DRDO.
DRDOs Indigenous answer to Carrierborne jet requirements for the Navy’s air operations is an extensive variant derived from Tejas’s base design called “Twin Engine Carrier-Based Deck Fighter” (TEBDF), which the DRDO and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) have offered. It “will have an indigenous deck-based fighter for the Navy.” Due to keeping TEBDF as a top priority for the government, the Indian Navy is exploring the ground technicalities to formalize the usage of homebuilt carrier fighter jets. Admiral Singh is expecting growth in the development of this project, recalling experiences with the N-LCA prototype testing, especially with expertise gaining in Arrestor hook, undercarriage, short recovery, and take-off type features during test hours. Due to its low MTOW and combat range being only single-engine, aircraft N-LCA never got the Navy’s operational approval. To replace in service, MiG29K Indian Navy is hopefully exploring the options for Dassault Rafale M or F/A-18 Superhornet class fighters for its future carrier until TEBDF and Naval Fifth-generation AMCA arrive.
IAF has 114 fighters on the table, with the option of both single and dual-engine aircrafts, but the Navy will optimize its requirements with dual engines only. Earlier in 2017 when the Navy floated RFI for 57 Carrierborne jets for acquisition, Boeing and Dassault responded and both firms’ jets are under evaluation. Additionally, both have claimed that their jets are compatible with the short take-off ski jump deck of INS Vikramaditya and the upcoming INS Vikrant. Both carriers are configured with Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) decks, originally derived from Russian carriers.
The Indian Navy is waiting for final confirmation on how many jets they will be allowed to procure from foreign firms, with IAFs response for combining two long-awaited deals into one mega-deal.