India has started the process of selecting and acquiring 57 multirole, carrier-borne fighter jets for operations on board its current and future aircraft carriers. A Request for Information (RfI) was issued this week by the Directorate of Naval Air Staff. The request follows the Indian Navy rejection of the indigenously developed Tejas fighter jet.
The RfI states that the new jets are intended as day and night capable, all weather multirole deck-based combat aircraft which can be used for air defense, air to surface operations and buddy refuelling, plus recce and electronic warfare missions.
India currently operates a single aircraft carrier named INS Vikramaditya. In 2018, INS Vikrant is to be added to the fleet, with nuclear powered INS Vishal to join by 2025.
India already ordered 45 MiG-29K Fulcrums to operate from these carriers, but now is looking for additional jets. At first, those were to be naval variants of India’s locally developed Tejas fighter jet, but the Indian Navy top brass have shown no confidence in the design whatsoever and finally rejected it in late 2016.
The naval version of the Dassault Rafale may be the perfect choice for the Indian Navy, given the fact the Indian Air Force has already ordered the Rafale. However, negotiations for this deal lasted many years.