India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program, currently the world’s biggest international fighter competition, will hinge on a series of national objectives—only one of them being the air force’s need to maintain squadron numbers. The $12 billion project covering 126 fighters, with a near certainty of follow-on orders, will be the country’s most ambitious license-building effort since MiG-21 manufacturing ended in the 1980s. Industrial and especially diplomatic factors will ...

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