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Evaluation of fighter aircraft and professional decisions

Recently, Indian Navy decided not to induct the indigenous Tejas fighter aircraft. This is a professional decision based on an objective professional decision. It is important that we areprudent about how the defense forces take decisions on buying aircraft and other equipment which cost millions of rupees for every piece. Operational pressures also influence decision-making.

There are three basic constituents in every procurement proposal for an item.
1. Services Qualitative Requirements (SQR) of the item
2. Granting of acceptance of necessity of the competent authority
3.  Categorization, that is, the way the item is to be procured

After this, the request for proposal (RFP) is provided to eligible firms to bid for the equipment. Depending on the way the item is to be procured or categorization of the case, Qualitative Requirements can be of two types:

1. In case the project is under the Make in India category, since the equipment is being indigenously designed a Preliminary SQR (PSQR) is generated.
2. For all other categorizations an Air SQR, or GSQR (Army), or NSQR (for the Navy) is made.

If the indigenous design capability is not developed as per requirements, an incremental approach is permitted in the ‘Make’ process till the completion of the prototype. The IAF and the development agency jointly frame PSQRs, considering the designing capability of the development agency and the operational capability required by the IAF. During development, PSQRs are worked upon till the prototype develops as per requirements and its performance meets the specifications in the PSQRs. After then, PSQRs are then converted to ASQR (or its equivalent). While a PSQR is futuristic in nature as it is still under development, an ASQR resides more in the present.

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