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India may buy 126 fighters from Russia
Vinay Shukla in Moscow | June 01, 2006 10:32 IST
India has asked Russia's Mig aircraft corporation to send a request for proposal for the acquisition of 126 fighters, Indian Air Force's chief S P Tyagi has said.
Tyagi, who watched a demonstration flight of the Mig-35 (Mig-29ovt) fighter at a Russian air force base near Moscow, said the demonstration was brilliant, but said, "The IAF is looking for an aircraft to win wars and not for impressive demonstrations.
"Any aircraft is nothing but a khokha (shell), but what matters is what is inside it," the Air Chief Marshal underscored.
He said that for the first time the factor of life cycle cost or ownership cost was being taken into account while acquiring a fighter.
"How to calculate the ownership cost was the problem and that's why it has taken more time in taking a decision," Tyagi said.
He added that the tender would be invited very soon.
According to earlier reports, Russia's Mig-35 would be facing a tough challenge from the battle-proven US F-16 and F-18.
The air chief said that any decision would be taken after studying the merits of a fighter at great depth.
He also declared that all the 126 fighters for the IAF would be purchased from a single vendor.
The air chief is on a weeklong Russia visit, which he qualified as military-diplomatic.
He also held extensive talks with his Russian counterpart General Vladimir Mikhailov and visited Sukhoi and Mig aircraft corporations.
Tyagi discussed the opening of a joint training centre in India for regional countries acquiring Russian Sukhoi planes.
Local media reports claimed India is to acquire flight simulators produced by aerospace equipment corporation for training the pilots of SU-30mki multi-role fighters.
Responding to a question, Tyagi said that India is very much talking to Russia on the joint development and production of a fifth-generation fighter.
"There is a government agreement, and we are talking to them," Tyagi said. He said that the Indian and Russian air forces were evaluating their requirements, specifics and vision of fifth generation fighter.
After completing talks, Tyagi left for Irkutsk where he would inspect 12 SU-30mki fighters, which India is swapping for older FKF and FMKF versions.
On the last leg of his visit he will interact with the officials of St. Petersburg-based engine and avionics designers and producers in his capacity as a customer of their product.