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French fighter jet Rafale and American fighter jet F-18 are in tough competition for a $5 billion deal to buy 26 fighter jets. The Indian Naval Headquarters is evaluating the reports of extensive testing of both these aircraft. The aircraft are planned to be procured as part of a government deal to operate from its latest aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, recently commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi.
Both the aircraft were tested in Goa
According to the ANI report, both the fighter aircraft Rafale and F-18 were extensively tested by a naval team in Goa. The report is with HQ and is being prepared for final shortlisting. He said the evaluation is to see whether the aircraft meets the technical standards of the naval requirements.
American aircraft F-18 are capable of carrying a carrier weighing around one lakh tonnes while the French Rafale is built for carriers weighing 60,000 tonnes. The Navy has MiG-29Ks which operate from INS Vikramaditya and their service capability record is not very strong and their numbers are considered sufficient for just one carrier.
The name of the winner will be decided by the test report
The test report will decide the name of the winner of the competition. Earlier it was planned to buy about 57 aircraft, but now it has been reduced to only 26. The last time both the aircraft had participated in an Indian tender, Rafale emerged as a winner, but the deal could not be completed due to technical issues.
However, based on the final selection of the previous deal, the government procured 36 Rafales, which played a major role during the deployment against China in eastern Ladakh and other regions. The US side has been claiming that it meets all the requirements of the Indian Navy while improving the performance and capabilities of the aircraft as compared to the previous competition.