India has invited defence contractors to enter the bidding contest to supply 126 new war planes in a deal estimated at $10bn.
Industry experts said the Russian-built MiG-35 and MiG-29 aircraft and the US-based Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing F-18 were likely frontrunners.
India will also be looking at Eurofighter's Typhoon, Saab's Gripen and Dassault's Rafale and Mirage.
The purchase will replace India's ageing fleet of Russian war planes.
India has never bought fighter planes from the US before because of frosty relations in the past. But ties between the two countries are improving.
Correspondents say the battle for India's skies is just beginning and it will be an intense competition between the world's most powerful aircraft makers.
Under the terms of purchase, the first 18 planes will be bought directly from the manufacturers, while the rest will be manufactured under licence in India.
Russia dominates India's defence purchases but Delhi's air force also has British and French-built aircraft.