Rafale deal: India has signed the 7.878 billion Euros deal for 36 fighter jets with France. It’s without doubt a big boost for the Indian Air Force (IAF) that is currently making do with a depleting strength of fighter jets. The deal has come after months of heavy cost negotiations on the part of India. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and France’s Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian signed the deal. India has reportedly saved 750 million Euros, from the original price that France had quoted. In January this year, France President Francois Hollande had come to India, and the price that had been quoted was 8.6 billion Euros. India had then refused to sign the contract, but after multiple rounds of talks the final price that was agreed on was 7.878 billion Euros.
For the Modi government, the Rafale fighter jet deal is a big feather in the cap The MMRCA deal for IAF had been initiated by the UPA government during its term, but it had been stuck. Apart from the cost savings, the Narendra Modi government has also added a 50 per cent offset clause in the deal. This clause is likely to generate business worth at least 3 billion Euros for Indian companies. This would help generate hundreds of jobs.
The most important aspect of the deal, apart from the fact that the Rafale is a 4.5 generation fighter jet, is the firepower that India is getting in the form of long-range and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles. Rafale fighter jets will come equipped with state-of-the-art missiles such as the Meteor and Scalp. The Meteor is a BVR air-to-air missile, with 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 IAF can now hit targets inside not only Pakistan but also across the northern and eastern borders, while still staying within India’s own territorial boundary. The Scalp on the other hand is an air-to-ground cruise and has a range of over 300 km. India will get the first Rafale fighter jet in 36 months and subsequently the rest will be delivered by France’s Dassault Aviation in a span of 66 months from the day of signing.
Watch this stunning video: Dassault’s Rafale Fighter Jet Flying Display At Paris Air Show 2015
At present, Pakistan has a BVR with an 80 km range. However, with the the ‘Meteor’, the balance of power in the air space will tilt in India’s favour. Reports suggest that the “vanila price” of the 36 fighter jets is around 3.42 billion Euros. The armaments will cost 710 million Euros and the Indian-specific changes, which includes integration of Israeli helmet mounted displays, will come at a price of 1700 million Euros. The remaining cost deals with the price of spare parts and maintenance etc.
As a part of the deal that has been signed, 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 has been signed for five years. Another concession is the 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 6 months of free weapons storage without any charge (in case the Indian infrastructure is not ready for storing the weapons).
Thales, which has provided a number of state-of-the-art equipment and systems aboard the Rafale, the noteworthy among which are the RBE2 AESA radar and the Spectra electronic warfare system, has expressed happiness over the signing of the deal. “All Thales teams would like to thank the Indian authorities for the trust they have placed in us. Rafale’s new export success demonstrates our ability, alongside Dassault Aviation and its partners, to constantly meet the customer’s highest expectations through innovation, the mastery of advanced technology and industrial excellence,” said Patrice Caine, Chairman and CEO of Thales group.