NEW DELHI — India has floated global bids to procure state-of-the-art active electronically scanned array radars and electronic warfare self-protection jammer pods for the forthcoming modified version of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft Mark-1A aircraft.
Under the ministry of defence's directions, India's sole combat aircraft manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., on Thursday released global requests for quotations for the equipment. Two systems will be selected by April next year, according to a top MoD defense production official.
"We cannot wait for Indian companies to develop and build these proven systems, and they will be bought off-the-shelf from overseas," the MoD official added.
Under a fast-track program, around 100 AESA radars will be bought at a cost of $1.85 billion million, and bids have been issued to Elta of Israel, US companies Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, SAAB of Sweden, Thales of France and Rosoboronoexport of Russia.
In addition, 100 electronic-warfare jammer pods will be procured from overseas at a cost of $200 million, and bids have been sent to Elta, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, SAAB, Thales, Rosoboronoexport, Indra of Spain and Leonardo-subsidiary Finmeccanica of Italy.
All global bids will be asked to submit price quotations before Feb. 15, and the final selection will be made before April.
HAL will launch serial production of the fighter jet 2018.
Last month, the defense ministry cleared the acceptance of necessity for procurement of 83 f LCA-1A, an upgraded version of LCA to be manufactured by HAL at a cost of $7.7 billion. The aircraft will be fitted with the AESA radar, air-to-air refueling capability, a self-protection jammer and an improved layout of internal systems to ease maintenance.
Currently HAL is producing 20 copies of a basic version of the LCA aircraft, and the upgraded LCA-1A with an order of 83 will take the total number of planes to be fielded to the Indian Air Force to 103.
A senior Indian Air Force official said they need the AESA radar on LCA-1A because unlike the conventional radar, which is based on manual steering, the AESA radar's beam moves electronically, switching between multiple targets so rapidly that it effectively scans them simultaneously, even when they are located far apart in air, on sea and ground.
"An AESA radar could be the key to victory in a future war," an IAF official added.
The Indian Air Force has a fleet strength of 34 squadrons -- one squadron is 18 aircraft -- compared with a requirement for 42 such formations. Additionally, around 11 squadrons of Russian-made MiG-21A fighter aircraft are retiring in another ten years.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.