The Navy has launched a hunt for a new set of fighter jets to operate from the aircraft carriers it will have in service five to six years from now.
Navy sources said in New Delhi that the force has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to global aviation majors, including American Boeing, Russian MiG and French D'Assault, ahead of issuing a tender for the aircraft.
Though the RFI is of a 'generic' nature, it could ultimately lead to a tender (or Request for Proposal) and the initial requirement would be for 16 aircraft with provision for follow-up orders of up to 40 aircraft, sources said.
The deck-based aircraft are required by the Navy to operate from its three 40,000-tonne Indigenous Aircraft Carriers (IAC) being built at the Cochin Shipyard. The delivery of the first IAC is expected around 2015.
While Boeing is likely to offer its F/A-18 'Super Hornet' which is operated by the US Navy from its aircraft carriers, D'Assault will bid with its 'Rafale' fighters. Both these aircraft are already in the race for the Indian Air Force's (IAF) 126 medium multi role aircraft (MMRCA) tender worth Rs 42,000 crore.