Already considering vendors for 110 fighter jets: Sitharaman

New Delhi: The government has “not forgotten” the IAFs requirements and is already considering the bids received through a Request for Information (RFI) for procurement of 110 fighter jets, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Friday.

“The rest (of the required fighter jets) will be produced as per strategic partnership programme for which the RFI has already been issued. So, we have not forgotten the rest,” Sitharaman said at a press briefing held after the Supreme Court dismissed petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the 36 Rafale fighter jets deal with French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

“The RFI has a laid down procedure, and as per that whoever comes in… There are already considerations. And the quality stipulations are all being applied and being looked into. So, it will go through its due course,” she added.

The Minister said the work was “already going on” for the full capability of the Air Force.

The Defence Ministry had in April this year issued an RFI to procure 110 fighter jets. The IAF requires 42 squadrons in view of a two front threat from Pakistan and China. It is currently doing with 31 fighter squadrons of 18 jets each.

“While the United Progressive Alliance government’s metrics for obtaining the total required number of fighter jets was that they would bring in 18 jets and then manufacture the rest here, they had not done either.

“What we have done here… Since additional time was being lost, so instead of one squadron of 18, we have bought two squadrons in flyaway condition, which is why it is 36,” she said.