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Indian Navy begins hunt for carrier-operated fighters

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Tejas Light Combat Aircraft

NEW DELHI (BNS): The Indian Navy is looking for a new set of fighter jets to operate from its Indigenous Aircraft Carriers (IAC) which will be in service in the next five to six years.

A Request for Information (RFI) has been issued to global aviation majors, including American Boeing, Russian MiG and French D'Assault, ahead of issuing a tender for the aircraft, said Navy sources.

The Navy would acquire up to 40 aircraft but initially plans to order 16 aircraft. 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, a report by PTI said.

Boeing’s F/A-18 'Super Hornet' and D'Assault’s 'Rafale' fighters, already in the race for the Indian Air Force's (IAF) 126 medium multi role aircraft (MMRCA) tender, is likely to compete for the tender.

Sources said the Navy was looking for a new set of carrier-operated aircraft as operationalisation of naval variant of the 'Tejas' Light Combat Aircraft was likely to be delayed and keeping in mind the operational requirements in case the Naval LCAs are not ready by the time the IACs set sail.

The LCA programme was launched by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1985 but its maiden flight was carried out only in 2001. The Naval variant's first flight is yet to take place.

Though the Navy had wanted to operate the Naval variant of the Tejas on IACs, the delays in its development has forced it to look for alternatives.

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