As the race in the Indian Air Force’s $10-billion tender for 126 combat jets reached the crucial stage of flight trials, Russia, on top of a full technology transfer, is offering India help in building its own advanced radar. This would put India in the elite league of manufacturers of some of the most sophisticated defence equipment.

“We are ready to develop a new advanced radar jointly with India,” said Vyacheslav Tishchenko, head of the Phazotron-NIIR Corporation. The company has built Russia’s first Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Zhuk-ME, for the MiG-35 fighter, the Russian contender in the IAF tender for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). Two planes will go to India next month for flight evaluation trials.

Also in the fray are the U.S. F-16 and F-18, the French Dassault’s Rafale, the Swedish Saab Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Transfer of technology is a prime requirement in the MMRCA tender, but as far as the radar is concerned, Russia alone seems prepared to meet the demand in full. “Out of six-seven countries in the world that have the know-how to build radars for combat jets, only two -- Russia and the U.S.-- domestically produce the full range of radar components,” Phazotron’s chief designer Yuri Guskov said.

Raytheon, the U.S. company that manufactures radars for the F-18 fighter, has already said it would only transfer “limited” technology “up to the level the U.S. government allows us.”

This means America’s European competitors in the MMRCA tender will also face restrictions on the transfer of technologies sourced from U.S. companies.

Russia is the only bidder which does not depend on the U.S. for any aircraft technologies, including the radar.

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