India is expected to release a request for information to Saab and Lockheed Martin this month for the production of single-engine fighter aircraft in partnership with a domestic private company as part of the Make in India program, Defense News reported Monday.
The South Asian country's defense ministry expects Lockheed and Saab to respond to the RFI within three months with regard to their respective fighter jets ““ F-16 Block 70 and Gripen E, a senior MoD official told Defense News.
The ministry also plans to issue an expression of interest to local firms over the next three to four months to collaborate with foreign original equipment manufacturers under a strategic partnership to produce approximately 120 fighter jets valued at approximately $18 billion.
A senior official with India's air force said an IAF expert panel will assess responses from Saab and Lockheed and make the final selection by early 2018, the report added.
Saab will team up with India-based Adani Group to compete for India's fighter jet production contract, Reuters reported Thursday.
Ratan Shrivastava, an aerospace consultant familiar with the matter, told Reuters the companies are likely to announce the proposed partnership Friday.
Lockheed has partnered with Tata Advanced Systems to build its F-16 fighter jets in India, the report noted.