The Indo-French deal for 36 Rafale multi-role combat jets, inked between Defence Ministers Manohar Parrikar and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, will ensure some major concessions and special discount for India, officials said here on Friday.
French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian signed the agreement with his Indian counterpart, Manohar Parrikar, in New Delhi, ending nearly 18 months of wrangling over terms between New Delhi and manufacturer Dassault Aviation.
India and France today signed the Euro 7.87-billion deal for Rafale fighter jets, equipped with latest missiles and weapon system besides multiple India-specific modifications that will give the IAF cutting edge capability over arch rival Pakistan.
In 2015, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France, he had announced India will be buying 36 Rafale warplanes off the shelf following his talks with French President, François Hollande. “This is a first deal for fighter jets in 20 years which is uniqueness in itself”, said Parikkar.
Modi, who welcomed the deal, called for its speedy and timely implementation.
The features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of IAF, which is now down to 34 squadrons as against a sanctioned strength of 44, includes its Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range of 150 KM.
Sources said the version of Rafale aircraft supplied to India will have better operational capabilities than the Rafale being operated by other air forces in terms of better radar, better detection and survival features and will have capabilities for operations from higher altitude airfields. Pakistan now has only a beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile with 80-km range.
Under India’s so-called offsets policy, Dassault will have to procure Indian-manufactured components equivalent to a certain value of the deal to help local defence manufacturing. However, Pakistan later acquired 80- km-range BVR.
Defence analyst Nitin Gokhale told Reuters that the price tag was fair and that India had negotiated it down from 12 billion euros.
Antony alleged the almost Rs 59,000 crore that India will pay for 36 fighter jets comes at a steep cost and the jets will not be manufactured in the country under the Make In India initiative.
They added that Rafale would be able to do five missions per day as compared to three for other aircraft due to their high turnaround time. The total price also includes maintenance and spare parts. India has the right to impose penalty on the French plane-maker if this condition is not met.