INDIA: In the wake of rejecting an indigenously made aircraft owing to the aircraft being too heavy, India’s navy is on the lookout for a new foreign fighter jet.
This is believed to be a symptom of the struggle to get Asian militaries to buy locally to grow their defence industries.
Last month, the navy had invited manufacturers to pitch for 57 planes for its aircraft carriers.
The order which is a multi-billion dollar order that the government had hoped would go to the state-run producers of India's Tejas, a combat aircraft 33 years in the making.
India needs more than Rafale to match China
India, South Korea, Taiwan and other Asian buyers are expected to intensify efforts this year to develop indigenous warplanes, military officials said.
The step is due to anxieties that the United States may be less engaged in the region under President Donald Trump.
However, their hopes of manufacturing state-of-the-art warplanes could still be decades away as countries need more time to master the technology, experts said.
"It's been long on ambition short on success," Richard A
Bitzinger, senior fellow at Singapore's S Rajaratnam School of
International Studies, said of the drive.
"These things are being done because of techno-nationalism,
they are done because these countries perceive themselves as
As part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make-in-India
campaign, scientists will showcase the Tejas warplane at an air-show opening in Bengaluru, on Tuesday.
But the jet remains a work in progress, with only three in service with the air force. Cleared by the government in 1983, the Indian plane was meant to be the backbone of the air force due for induction in
1994. Instead, it suffered years of delay with scientists trying
to build the world's most modern light combat aircraft from
scratch, including the engine.
In December, the navy chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba, said the sea version of the plane was "not up to the mark" and it could not take off from an aircraft carrier once weapons were loaded. A source in the navy said that the plane for years has failed flight tests when taking off from a 200-metre carrier deck with weapons on board. That prompted the navy to issue a request last month for information for a foreign fighter to fill the gap, the first stage in a long procurement process.
Lockheed Martin ready to manufacture F-16 jets in India
South Korea, that is supported by Indonesia, has multi-billion dollar plans to develop a twin-engined KF-X fighter jet, while Taiwan said this month it plans to build 66 jet trainer aircraft that could eventually help it manufacture a combat plane.
Chang Yeoung-keun, an adviser on the KF-X fighter jet project and a professor at Korea Aerospace University, said full development of the plane and its technologies will take decades.
"South Korea needs to develop core technologies of the jets,
not just shells," he said.
"I am sceptical. South Korea may be able to develop core technology in 30 to 40 years, but they have to develop them in 10 years, with current fighter jets ageing."
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