NEW DELHI --- France is likely to offer additional Rafale aircraft to India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the European country for the G-7 Summit on Thursday, sources told ET.
The French side, sources said, is set to offer an immediate sale of two more squadrons, which means 36 additional Rafale jets, to the Indian Air Force that has been grappling with depleting combat force levels.
PM Modi is slated to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday during which both sides will hold detailed deliberations on a range of subjects including key issues like defence and maritime cooperation.
While the 2016 deal for 36 Rafale jets was signed for €7.87 billion, sources said additional 36 aircraft would cost significantly lesser because payment for fixed costs covering India-specific enhancements, training equipment and infrastructure has already been made. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Rumors from India claim that France and India are finalizing a much bigger deal, worth over 30 billion euros and covering up to 200 additional Rafales, which could be announced as early as this week, during Modi’s visit to France this week.
Dassault Aviation declined to comment, and these rumors have not been confirmed. However, we are reporting them because the details are very plausible, and lend a degree of credibility.
The rumored deal would cover 114 Rafales for the Indian Air Force, another 57 for the Indian Navy and possibly 30-40 more to ultimately replace the Indian Air Force’s fleet of upgraded Mirage 2000s.
India has already launched two RFPs, for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft and Navy carrier fighter requirements, but neither seems to have made much progress. However, both could be met by Rafale, which exists in both land- and carrier-based versions.
The structure of this rumored deal would substantially differ from earlier plans, which called for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), the Indian state-owned aircraft manufacturer, to assemble 108 Rafales that Dassault was required to guarantee. As the company refused to guarantee HAL’s work, that deal collapsed.
This time, if the rumors are to be believed, the deal would be a government-to-government agreement, and Dassault would establish a final assembly line (FAL) of its own in India by 2024.
This FAL would be operated by a new company (Dassault Aviation India Ltd.) in which the Government of India would control a 50% stake, with no role for HAL.
Deliveries of the additional Rafales would begin in 2022 and be completed 12-13 years later. All of the new aircraft would be to the latest F4 standard, which Dassault is developing under a €1 billion contract, and earlier aircraft would also be upgraded.
Dassault is said to have committed to increase local sourcing up to 75% of the aircraft’s value, beginning with the 150th aircraft.
Such a huge deal – it would probably be the biggest-ever fighter purchase by a single country – would make operational and financial sense for India, allowing it to reduce its fighter fleet to just two major types, Rafale and Su-30MKI, with proportionately big savings in training, logistics and weapons.
It remains to be seen what develops this week during Modi’s visit.
For the time being, however, these are only rumors, albeit plausible ones, and this report is highly speculative.)