Wednesday, 07 December 2022

India to buy 26 jets for INS Vikrant

India to buy 26 jets for INS Vikrant

With the initial twin-engine deck-based fighter a decade away, the Narendra Modi government will be buying 26 carrier-based fighters for the soon-to-be commissioned INS Vikrant on a government-to-government basis on the recommendation of the Indian Navy.

While the flight test trials of options French Rafale-Marine have already been conducted at the Indian Navy’s shore-based test facility in Goa this January, US F-18 super hornet trials are expected to be completed by June 15. Out of the 26 aircraft, the Indian Navy wants eight twin-seater trainers, which can also be used in combat conditions. Both the fighters are virtual of the same vintage, and both the manufacturers have maintenance, repairs, and overhaul facilities in India.

Both the jets have undergone intensive trials at the test facility in Goa. Still, they have not yet landed on India’s sole aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, as it is under significant maintenance in Karwar and expected to start sailing later in June. India’s indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is going through sea trials and is hoping to be ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2022.

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As per South Block officials, India is not looking to lease fighters for INS Vikrant. Still, it will go for outright G-to-G purchase of the deck-based fighters from either French Dassault or US Boeing, based on the Indian Navy’s aviation wing evaluation. Both the companies have handed out with the Indian Air Force, with Dassault selling Rafale fighters and Boeing selling P8I anti-submarine warfare platforms, Chinook helicopters, and C-17 heavy-lift aircraft. The two jets have proven track records, with the F-18 being tested in the Iraq and Afghan wars by the US Navy.

While French Safran is keen to manufacture 100-kilo newton engines with Indian entities without any pre-conditions, Defence Ministry is also exploring the same with the US.

The GE-404 engine is used in the indigenous Tejas fighter, and GE-414 is considered for the twin-engine advanced multi-role combat aircraft (AMCA) project of the DRDO.

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