India Begins New Fighter Search:

The Government of India has begun a worldwide hunt for 126 advanced fighter aircraft to replace its ancient MiG-21s. The nation on Tuesday invited bids from six manufacturers in a competition that could be worth $10 billion. The expected competitors are the American F-16 and F/A-18; the Eurofighter Typhoon; the French Rafale; the Russian MiG-35; and the Swedish Gripen. According to various news reports, competitors have six months to respond, after which a two and a half year evaluation will take place. After selecting a winner, it could be another 2.5 years before the first aircraft begin arriving—around 2013. India’s air force could also expand the purchase up to 200 fighters. Terms of the request call for the first 18 aircraft to be purchased in “flyaway” condition from the manufacturer, with the remaining 108 to be manufactured in India. A clause in the request calls for 50 percent of money paid to the winning contractor to be reinvested in India’s defense manufacturing sector.