Sunday, May 31, 2015, New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has ruled out the possibility of buying more than 36 Rafale fighter jets under the present process as top sources in the Defence Ministry today suggested that India will adopt a new formula to acquire the rest of Medium-Multi-Role-Combat-Aircraft (MMRCA).
Although, only 36 Rafale will be purchased through Government-to-Government (G-to-G) deal, as was conveyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France leadership during his visit, rest of the requirement will be fulfilled via public-private-foreign (PPF) partnership route.
Calling earlier proposal of acquiring 126 fighters as ‘economically unviable’, the Defence Minister has suggested that India need not to buy more than 36 Rafale fighter jets.
A timeline of 90 days has been fixed to complete the price negotiation for 36 Rafale, including 32 single seater and rest 4 twin seater for the training purposes, the sources said.
“Soon after the completion of price negotiation process, the delivery of the aircraft will commence,” they said.
“First, I can not afford and second, I do not need it (additional Rafale)” Mr Parrikar was quoted as saying in some media reports.
The IAF has projected the requirement of 126 fighters, with an option clause of purchasing additional 63 aircraft. The long drawn process, that ran into more than 8 years, had been scrapped by the present government.
“An entity of companies from public and private sector will be floated to generate resources for building industrial base for assembling rest of the Rafales, after the delivery of 36 fighters is complete,” the sources said.
“The entity will have a strategic partnership with French Dassault Aviation (maker of Rafale),” they said.
The government need not to put its financial resources to create the required infrastructure for rest of the Rafale aircraft, which will be acquired under the new formula.
The formula seems to be in sync with Mr Parrikar’s earlier statement when he said that by deciding to buy 36 Rafales, the government has saved the cost of 90 fighters, which can be spent on the development of Tejas mark-2.