India, France sign deal on Rafale fighter jets

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 16, 2018

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean Yves le Drian after signing the Rafale deal in New Delhi on Friday


Deal worth ₹58,000 crore; first delivery likely in October 2019

The much-delayed ₹58,000-crore Rafale fighter jet deal with France was inked on Friday.

The contract to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from French defence major Dassault Aviation in an effort to boost the fighting capability of the Indian Air Force has been in the making since 2007. It was in 2012 that Dassault Aviation bagged the contract following a competitive bidding process.

“The deal will give a potent, effective fighter that the IAF needed badly. This is the first such deal on aircraft in last 20 years, which is a uniqueness in itself,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters after signing the pact.

The deal was finalised with the signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) by Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves le Drian at the Ministry of Defence.

The aircraft will be bought by India in flyaway condition. The first delivery is expected to take place by October 2019. Thereafter, the remaining 35 jets will be delivered over a period of two and a half years, sources told BusinessLine.

India will be paying around ₹1,611 crore for each of the jets. The government is believed to have paid for six jets already costing around ₹9,000 crore, said sources. All the 36 warplanes will have specifications as per the need of the Indian Air Force.

As part of the offset obligations, the French industrial suppliers will discharge offsets for 50 per cent value of the procurement.

As a result, the Defence Ministry believes it will generate employment and the need for product support requirements will open up opportunities in warehousing and supply chain management in the country.

Sources said the Rafale jets have better radar, better detection, survival features and will have capabilities for operations from higher altitude airfields. The weapons package will include advanced Meteor missiles and guided air-to-ground long range weapons, they added.

The maintenance support of the aircraft will be provided through performance-based logistics. The French Air Force will be training three IAF pilots, one engineer and six technicians. IAF personnel will also undergo training by French industrial suppliers, sources said.

The capabalities

The plane is capable of carrying out all combat aviation missions — air defence, interception, ground support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.

Indian Air Force, which has 32 fighter squadrons, needs at least 42 in the backdrop of the depleting MiG-21 fighter planes.

The Rafale has been used by the French armed forces in combat operations for more than a decade now and has proven its operational excellence in various theatres around the world, Dassault Aviation said. The warplanes have been used for combat operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria.

All the 36 warplanes, which will be manufactured in France, will have better operational capabilities than the Rafale aircraft being operated by other air forces, sources said.

Published on September 23, 2016

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