India’s air strike capabilities are all set to get a terrific boost with the Rafale fighter jet deal getting the final nod from the Narendra Modi government. The deal, which is worth 7.878 billion Euros, will be signed in the presence of France’s Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian on Friday, that is September 23. The delivery timelines that have been set are 36 to 66 months, in which France’s Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale, will give India 36 fighter jets.
The Rafale fighter jet deal is a big feather in the cap for the Modi government, since the deal which was been in the works for some time now. The UPA government had initiated a Rafale fighter jet deal during its term, but it had been stuck. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has driven a hard bargain with France, resulting in reported savings of around 750 million Euros from what France had quoted in January this year. The Narendra Modi government has also added a 50 per cent offset clause in the deal. This clause is expected to generate business worth at least 3 billion Euros for Indian companies, implying hundreds of jobs.
1) Meteor power: The biggest boost for the Indian Air Force (IAF) comes from the fact that these Rafale fighter jets will come equipped with state-of-the-art missiles such as the Meteor and Scalp. Beyond Visual Range Meteor air-to-air missiles have a range in excess of 150 KM. With these missiles, the Rafale fighter jet will be a big strategic weapon in the hands of the IAF. The Meteor missile’s integration on the Rafale jets implies that the IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders, while still staying within India’s own territorial boundary, reported PTI. Pakistan has a BVR with 80 km range. With Meteor, the balance of power in the air space will tilt in India’s favour.
2) Scalp missile: The Scalp missile is a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile. It has a range in excess of 300 km and will also give the IAF an edge over its adversaries.
3) Cost break-up: Sources told PTI that the “vanila price” of the 36 fighter jets is around 3.42 billion Euros. 710 million Euros would be the cost of the armaments and Indian-specific changes, which include integration of Israeli helmet mounted displays, will come at a price of 1700 million Euros. The remaining cost includes the price of spare parts and maintenance etc.
4) Cost savings: As stated above, India has saved around 750 million Euros in the deal. In January 2016, when France President Francois Hollande came to India, the French side had quoted a price of 8.6 billion Euros. India had refused to sign the contract, resulting in the two nations signing only an MoU. India then asked France to make the deal cost calculations on the basis of actual cost, or “Price as on today”, plus European Inflation Indices. The Defence Ministry capped the European Inflation Indices at a maximum of 3.5% a year. At the time of UPA, the fixed cost formula had been agreed on and an inflation of 3.9% was allowed to be added from the first day of the deal itself.
5) Additional clauses: Dassault Aviation will have to make sure that at any given point of time, at least 75% of the entire fleet of Rafale fighter jets remains operational. This warranty will be signed for five years. Three other concessions include free training for 9 IAF personnel. This includes 3 pilots besides additional guarantee for 60 hours of usage of training aircraft for Indian pilots and six months of free weapons storage without charge (in case the Indian infrastructure is not ready for storing the weapons).