New Delhi, Apr 6: India on Friday kick-started the process to acquire a fleet of around 110 fighter jets out of which about 75 per cent are expected to be single seat and rest twin seat. If cracked, the deal could be one of the world’s biggest military procurement in recent years. The deal is likely to cost more than Rs 100,000 crores or about 15 billion dollars, a report said.

In this connection, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has reportedly issued the RFI (Request for Information) or initial tender for the deal which will be in sync with the government’s Make in India initiative.

The Indian Air Force in a notice said that the procurement will have a maximum of 15 per cent aircraft in flyaway state and the remaining 85 per cent aircraft will have to be made in India by a Strategic Partner and the Indian Production Agency. (ALSO READ: IAF to Equip Su-30MKI With Advanced Radar, Missiles)

It is the first mega procurement initiative for fighter jets after the government scrapped the process to acquire 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force around five years ago.

According to the officials, the jets will be produced jointly by a foreign aircraft maker along with an Indian company. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Saab and Dassault are the leading military aircraft producers that are likely to compete to vie for the mega deal.

Notably, the IAF has been pressing for the need to speed up the process for acquiring the aircraft due to the declining strength of its fighter squadron following the phasing out of some of the ageing jets.

Currently, the IAF has 32 combat squadrons against a sanctioned strength of 39.5, which is sought to be raised to 42. Former Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, in a press conference days before retiring, had said that the force needs at least 200 more fighter jets in next decade, a report in IANS said.

Earlier in September 2016, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government signed an Euro 7.87 billion (approx Rs 59,000 crore) deal with the French government for purchase of 36 Rafale twin-engine fighter jets.

A PTI report says that the IAF was keen on a follow-on order of 36 additional Rafales however, the government has not yet taken any decision on the same.