India inks Rafale deal

  • India inks Rafale deal

India inks Rafale deal

An India ministerial panel is said to have approved the purchase of 36 new fighter jets made by France's Dassault Aviation SA, concluding a major step in its decade-long quest to modernize the country's air force.

The sources said the an inter-governmental agreement, which could not be signed during French President Francois Hollande's visit in January, is likely to be signed on Friday by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

"India and France signed the deal for 36 Rafale jets", Parrikar wrote on twitter after finalizing the deal.

India had originally awarded Dassault with an order for 126 Rafales in 2012, but subsequent talks collapsed. "The IAF needs more squadrons, current availability of fighter jets is 32 squadrons and by 2022 this will reduce to 25", the former Defence Minister said. Pakistan now has only a beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile with 80-km range.

Complete Deal of 36 Twin-engine Rafales along with weapons and proper supplies and logistics will cost India around 7.8 billion euros (over Rs 59,000 Crore), as earlier said by TOI.

IAF logisticians, already overstretched in supporting six different fighter types - the largest number for any major air force across the world - are wary of a seventh combat platform entering service.

To New Delhi's advantage, the aircraft would come with several India-specific enhancements, including an Israeli helmet-mounted display.

This was when the commercial negotiations gathered pace, nearly seven months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India's intention to buy 36 Rafales off the shelf from France during his trip to Paris in April 2015.

According to the deal, France will also provide logistical support, spare parts, and flight simulators. "This aircraft is coming with two of the finest missiles and it will give us tremendous edge over our adversaries", he said. But that condition is gone and Make in India is also gone. Warranty is extendable by two years by factoring inflation and further by another five years upon negotiation. We need a mix of Su-30 and LCA Tejas. On Lockheed Martin's offer of its F-16 to boost the Indian Air Force, there would be a heavy maintenance bill if there were three types of aircraft - Sukhoi 30, Rafale and the U.S. fighter - he said.