The Indian Navy (IN) has issued a request for information (RFI) for a new carrier-based multirole combat aircraft after the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was rejected as being unsuitable for service.
The RFI, issued on 17 January but disclosed publically on 26 January, covers the procurement of 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBFs) aircraft for the IN's Vikramaditya and Vikrant aircraft carriers to fill the gap that has been left by the cancellation in December 2016 of the naval variant of the Tejas LCA for 'not meeting the operational capability' required by the service.
As noted in the solicitation, the selected aircraft should be capable of operations during day and night, and in all weather conditions; and be suitable for shipborne air defence, air-to-surface, 'buddy-buddy' aerial refuelling, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and other unspecified roles. Deliveries would be expected to commence within three years of a contract signature, and be completed within a further three years.
Specific mission and performance parameters listed include an Operational Clean Configuration (OCC) that comprises a gun, four beyond visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) and two all-aspect air-to-air missiles (AAMs). Information on possible anti-shipping, land-attack, and anti-radiation missiles, as well as precision-guided and 'dumb' munitions is sought also.
Information requested includes whether the aircraft is single- or twin-seat (or available as both), and if it has one or two engines; whether it can perform Short Take-off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) or Catapult Take-off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) operations (or both); whether the aircraft is already in operational use or not; whether helmet-mounted displays and large-area displays are integrated and fitted; is auto-landing an option; and whether or not an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar is fitted.
In line with the government's wider 'Make in India' programme, the RFI asks if vendors would be willing to set up in-country production centres for the new aircraft, which will complement the MiG-29K/KUB 'Fulcrum' in IN service.
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