The multi billion dollar deal to acquire 126 fighter jets, under the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) project, is likely to be inked by mid 2011, Indian Air Force chief said on Saturday. "It is a big deal. We have finished the evaluation and the matter is with the (Defence) Ministry now. Hopefully, it will progress and we will be able to sign the contract by July next year. After that it takes three years for delivery," Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said.
He was talking to reporters after reviewing the Combined Graduation Parade of flight cadets of IAF at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal, about 35 km from Hyderabad. Six global aeronautical firms are in the fray for the contract for which a tender was floated in August, 2007.
The Chief of Air Staff said that besides the MMRCA project, deals for inducting new aircraft were in the pipeline. India and Russia are jointly developing the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). "We will be going in for about 200-250 of such fighter planes starting from 2017 onwards."
With regard to transport aircraft, the IAF will buy C-17 American transport aircraft for which negotiations are going on, Naik said. "The air force is going in for the Medium Transport Aircraft in collaboration with Russia. We are also going in for air to air refueling tankers (Flight Re-fueling Aircraft) for which we have given a global request for proposal (RFP). The C-130 J Hercules will be inducted from January," he said. The Air Force is also evaluating attack helicopters and heavy lift choppers, the IAF chief said.