Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba today said a request for proposal (RFP) is likely to be issued by mid-2018 for the procurement of 57 multi-role combat fighter jets for the Navy’s aircraft carrier.
“Hopefully we will be able to issue the RFP by middle of next year,” he said.
Four aircraft manufacturers have shown interest in the project.
The Navy chief also said the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC I) will be ready by 2020 and the Navy was looking for deck based combat capable fighter aircraft for it.
He said the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. cannot operate from deck and that is why the Navy was looking for other options.
“I need a deck based combat capable fighter by 2020 for IAC I. In present state, LCA Navy cannot be operated from deck,” he said.
The Navy chief also said that the “form and fit” of the second indigenous aircraft carrier have been finalised and that it will be a 65,000-tonne vessel.
Replying to a question, he said there will not be any financial constraints in procuring 57 new deck based fighter jets.
At the same time, he indicated that declining capital budget for the Navy was a matter of concern. He said he had raised the issue with the defence ministry.