India has no qualms to purchasing the aforementioned aircraft from the United States; in fact, both Lockheed Martin's F-16 Fighting Falcon and Boeing's F-18 Super Hornet are among the six finalists for the Indian Air Force's planned acquisition of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA)... The MMRCA competition was launched in 2008 by then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to replace India's aging fleet of Russian-made MiG-21 fighters.
Most crucially, nearly none of the weaponry in India's present arsenal can be integrated with the aircraft, which must be acquired separately, leading in cost overruns. Since the outset, India's requirements for a fighter jet have been unequivocal: a medium multi-role capability. However, the offerings of the US and Russia do not meet this requirement. The F-16 and Su-30 MKI are capable fighters, but neither is adequate for the role required of India's new fleet.
The Indian Air Force currently operates a mix of Russian-made MiG-21s and French-made Mirage 2000Hs. While both these fleets are expected to be replaced by a single new type within the next two decades, this replacement plan has been put on hold due to financial constraints. The IAF has requested funds from the government to purchase more than 100 new fighter jets - approximately 10 per year for the next few years - but given India's limited military budget, this request has gone unheeded.
India does buy some arms from the United States. It has purchased several C-130 Hercules transport planes from Washington. Also, India has bought AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships from the US. But these purchases are relatively small compared to what India buys from Russia or China.
In conclusion, India's air force isn't equipped to fight a war today, but it's not equipped to fight a peace either.
According to the US, the FMS method is an unrivaled procurement mechanism for India to buy the F-15EX combat jet. It issued a tender for the 114 aircraft in 2018, which would be produced in India by a joint venture between an Indian business and a foreign original equipment manufacturer with knowledge sharing. The deal is expected to be signed during President Trump's visit in July.
The proposal was sent to Congress last year for approval but has not received any response yet. If approved, it will be the biggest single purchase of military equipment in India. The estimated cost is around $10 billion.
India needs about 20 new fighter jets for its air force, but wants them to be made in India by local industry because of cost concerns. The United States offers a cheaper alternative: the F-15EX that can fly longer distances than other fighters and costs less to maintain.
India's decision to buy American weapons was confirmed in January when U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said his country would continue selling arms to India despite objections from some lawmakers over New Delhi's purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia. "Indians deserve the best air power available so they can live free from oppression and fear," Esper said at the time. "That's what we're here for - to support our allies, including India."
With a deal for 83 LCA Tejas Mark 1A aircraft scheduled to be inked during the next Aero India, the Indian Air Force is now aiming to focus on the multirole fighter aircraft programme, which is expected to cost more than Rs 1.3 lakh crore. The IAF has already issued requests for information (RFI) to five countries - France, Italy, Russia, Sweden and America - about their proposed multirole fighters.
The IAF's requirement was put forth in 2001, when it called for a single-engine, lightweight fighter capable of performing ground attack missions as well as engaging enemy fighters. It also wanted the aircraft to have self-defence capabilities. In addition, the new fighter should be able to operate from short airstrips without requiring major modifications. The IAF said it was willing to pay up to $20 million for the contract.
Of the five countries that responded to the IAF's RFI, only two - France and Sweden - are still in the race. The French are offering the Dassault Rafale while the Swedes are proposing the Saab JAS 39 Gripen. The other three countries have dropped out of the contest: Russia withdrew its T-50 prototype from the competition in 2007 after several problems were identified with the aircraft's design; China refused to comment on the matter; and America shut down its project after it failed to find any potential partners.
Pakistan ordered 40 F-16 aircraft from the United States in 1981. However, because to worries over Pakistan's nuclear weapons development, the US embargoed an order for 28 F-16 fighter planes in the 1990s. Following Pakistan's help in the war against al Qaeda, the United States restarted F-16 shipments in 2005. The remaining 12 jets are to be delivered through a contract signed in 2008.
In response to India's demand for a nuclear-capable partner, Pakistan developed its own jet fighter, named the Tariq (Thunder). The Tariq is capable of flying at high speeds and with great maneuverability, which makes it difficult for opponents to shoot down. The Tariq also uses western technology, such as fuel injection systems and power plants, which helps it overcome problems with engine performance that have plagued previous Pakistani jet fighters.
The Tariq made its first flight on January 5, 2009. It was shown publicly for the first time two months later at the Islamabad Air Show. The Tariq has been widely praised by foreign journalists who have seen it in action. They say that the plane is very fast and highly maneuverable. Some critics claim that the Tariq looks like a Chinese fighter jet because it has similar features such as delta wings and tail fins. However, the Pakistan government and military believe that the Tariq is unique and can help it win future wars.