In a bid to replace its ageing fleet of Russian-made fighter jets and helicopters, India will invite bids for supplying 126 fighter jets in the next two months, enabling Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. to try and sell such planes to the South Asian nation for the first time.
“I expect the request for proposals to be called anytime in the next one to two months,” defence minister A.K. Antony, said in Delhi.
India is modernizing its armed forces as China develops its own fighter planes and Pakistan buys aircraft from the US. Boeing will compete with Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defence company, for the contract.
“The defence ministry panel on acquisitions will meet in the next fortnight to finalize the details,” Antony said, after addressing a conference of military commanders. He asked the officials to devise a plan for “the transformation of the forces to meet varied security challenges.” Lockheed Martin will bid for the contract with its F-16 fighter jets, and Boeing with its F-18 planes. While Boeing has sold commercial planes to India, neither company has sold fighters to the country.
The Indian Air Force wants to upgrade its fleet of helicopters and fighter jets, some of which are over 20-years-old. That gives companies such as Boeing an opportunity to bid for $15 billion (Rs60,000 crore) worth of Indian orders in the next 10 years, Boeing said on 1 December.