MMRCA 2.0 – India’s Quest For Last Foreign Fighter Aircraft Procurement! News Web Series Ep-1

Shailesh Kumar/ National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 01 November 2019

Indian Air Force is no more going to import any fighter aircraft from foreign vendors and will focus on India’s swadeshi Advance Medium Combat Aircraft that is AMCA except MMRCA 2.0. That means India will purchase 110 fighter aircraft besides already procured 36 super potent fighter jet Rafale. There are 6 contenders in MMRCA 2.0. 

The Ministry of Defence, Government of India, intends to procure Fighter Aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) which is to be Made in India. The proposal is to procure approximately 110 fighter aircraft, about 75% single seat and rest twin seat aircraft. The procurement should have a maximum of 15% aircraft in flyaway state and the remaining 85% aircraft will have to be made in India by a Strategic Partner (SP)/ Indian Production Agency (IPA).

This Request for Information (RFI) consists of three parts:

Part I- This part of the RFI incorporates the intended use, technical characteristics and features that should be met by the aircraft.

Part II- This part of the RFI incorporates Transfer of Technology or ToT requirements, associated equipment and standard contract terms.

Part III- This part of the RFI states the methodology of seeking response of the vendors.

So what is the Intended Use of the Fighter aircraft? The aircraft are intended as day and night capable, all weather multi-role combat aircraft which can be used for the roles as in:

Air Superiority, Air Defence,  Air to Surface Operations, Reconnaissance, Maritime, Electronic Warfare missions, Buddy Refuelling etc.

So what are the Technical Parameters of the aircraft Indian Air Force is going to buy? Queries on technical parameters for the aircraft are given in Appendix A of RFI. The Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is to provide para-wise response for each aspect specified at Appendix A along with necessary additional information. We will soon discuss these interesting technical parameters in other stories of this MMRCA 2.0 series.

Now lets talk about the Transfer of Technology  or ToT.

Government of India is desirous of production of fighter aircraft in India after acquiring Transfer of Technology. IAF in RFI asks contending OEMs if OEM willing to transfer design, development, manufacturing and repair expertise within India? The OEM should specify scope, depth and range of ToT and key technologies which would be shared with its SP/ IPA in India. The details and guidelines on ToT aspects are defined in Schedule I to chapter II of DPP 2016. Vendors are required to provide information in the tabular format attached as Appendix B. We will come back to this later. Let us see what RFI says on Indigenisation Content.

Level of indigenisation in content and design, in percentage, is to be clearly indicated for all components of the main and associated equipment that is being quoted by the OEM. The vendors to indicate Indigenisation Content (IC) that is planned to be achieved. The acquisition category, as detailed in DPP-2016, will be based on this information.

The OEM along with SP/ IPA is to propose a Performance Based Logistics Package (PBL) for an aircraft availability of 75% with an average flying effort of 150 hrs per aircraft per year for a period of ten years.

OEMs would be required to provide details of clearances required from their government regarding transfer of technology as specified in Schedule I to chapter II of DPP 2016. RFI may be considered as advance information to seek government clearances.

The OEM to provide details of all the weapons integrated on the aircraft and confirm willingness to supply these to the IAF.

Integration of Weapons, Systems and Sensors. Aircraft would be integrated with weapons/ sensors/ systems of Indian origin/ any other origin, at any time of its service life. The vendor is to provide the user the capability to unilaterally upgrade/ integrate such systems, weapons or sensors. The vendor would be required to integrate certain Buyer Furnished Equipment / Buyer Nominated Equipment and it is essential that test pilots and engineers of the IAF or their assignees be involved in flight testing of such equipment during integration and certification phase.

So what is the tentative Delivery Schedule of these 110 fighter jets in MMRCA 2.0? The initial delivery of aircraft in FF state from the OEM would commence from T0+ 36 months or earlier and complete by T0+60 months. Delivery of aircraft produced by the SP/ IPA should commence by T0+5 years and complete by T0+12 year. (T0 would be the date of signing of the contract.)

What about the Training of Aircrew and Maintenance Personnel? Well OEM would be responsible for training of aircrew and maintenance personnel at suitable facilities to enable quick absorption of the aircraft and its technology by the IAF and SP/ IPA.

Is there any Warranty on these procured aircraft?  The vendors are required to furnish the expected duration of warranty for the aircraft and its subsystems including role equipment. Mean Time between Failures (MTBF) and Performance Linked Warranty for an average utilisation of 150hr per aircraft per year for a period of ten years is to be stipulated.

Is there any Obsolescence Management Plan? Yes RFI says that the OEM should present a phased obsolescence management plan. The plan should offer adequate assurance for life time product support. Will the vendor provide modifications required in the aircraft / system for the sake of obsolescence management or due to flight safety considerations for its service life?

What about Cost Estimate? What would be the approximate budgetary estimates for the aircraft including production, customs duties, spares, installation, commissioning, training, and documentation? A comprehensive maintenance cost, cost of PBL for ten years and cost for obsolescence management (if applicable) for the 15 years life of the aircraft is to be included. Vendors are required to fill this information in the tabular form provided as Appendix C.

OEM should indicate willingness to conduct FET at no-cost no – commitment basis.

Does the OEM have any strategic partnership with any Government/ private aircraft manufacturer/ designer? Specify the details.

Any other relevant information on capability of performing the roles, additional roles possible and maintenance philosophy may also be specified.

The RFI specifically asks Vendors to confirm if following conditions are acceptable:

(a)        Integrity Pact. An integrity pact along with appropriate Integrity Pact Bank Guarantees or IPBG is a mandatory requirement in the instant case. The details on IPBG can be fetched from Annexure I to Appendix M of Schedule I of Chapter II of DPP-2016.

(b)        Option Clause. An Option Clause may be exercised in the procurement case. Vendors must express their willingness or otherwise for Option Clause, including the duration for which the Option clause would be valid.

(c)        Performance-cum-Warranty Bond. Performance-cum-Warranty Bond of 5% of value of the contract is required to be submitted after signing of contract.

The PART – III of RFI deals with  Procedure for Response. Vendors are to furnish information sequentially as per the Para Numbers. Vendors are also expected to furnish information in tabular form, where ever tables are provided. Additional information if any is to be attached at the end of the respective Appendix / Annexure with appropriate reference to serial number in the RFI. The vendors were supposed to send two copies of RFI Response- Fighter Aircraft to Directorate of Air Staff Requirements in Air Headquarter by 06th of July 2018. According to National Defence Sources 6 vendors from 5 countries have responded to the IAF RFI.

The Government of India invites responses to this request only from Original Equipment Manufacturers/ Government sponsored export agencies (applicable only in the case of countries where domestic laws do not permit direct export by OEMs). The end user of the equipment is the Indian Air Force.

This information is being issued with no financial commitment and the Ministry of Defence reserves the right to change or vary any part thereof at any stage. The Government of India also reserves the right to withdraw it should it be so necessary at any stage. The acquisition process would be carried out under the provisions of

DPP 2016 (includes provisions of Chapter VII of this DPP), as amended from time to time.

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