With Rafale deal in limbo, India may buy American F/A-18 fighter jets
A report said on Wednesday that the jets may be supplied to the IAF under the Make in India programme.
New Delhi: Amid the deadlock in conclusion of India-France deal on acquisition of Rafale fighter jets, New Delhi is reported to be exploring the possibility of buying American F/A-18 "Super Hornet" fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.
A report in The Times of India said on Wednesday that the jets may be supplied to the IAF under the Make in India programme.
Notably, US Defence Secretary Ash Carter is due in India as early as from April 10 to 12 to further strengthen the bilateral strategic partnership.
The report quoted sources as saying that India is looking at the possibility of acquiring the F/A-18 fighters, manufactured by Boeing, as the Rs 60,000 crore deal to acquire 36 Rafale fighters from France's Dassault Aviation remains stuck even a year after it was announced following a meeting between PM Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande in Paris.
The IAF currently has just 33 fighter squadrons and this has forced New Delhi to explore other options, that too on an urgent basis.
The report said US government officials as well as representatives of Boeing have already made detailed presentations before the Indian establishment on how they plan to set up the American fighter production line in India.
Lockheed Martin, which manufactures F-16s, has also made presentation before the Indian officials.
The government, meanwhile, has yet to take a final decision on both the offers, the report quoted sources as saying.
However, it is likely that India may go in for the twin-engine F/A-18s compared to the single-engine F-16s as the former can also be operated from aircraft carriers, which makes them usable for the Navy as well.