Contrary to India's desire, France has not made any commitment for before-the-schedule delivery of the first batch of Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.The Indian Air Force will not be getting Rafale fighter jets before schedule despite several requests by the Indian government to France to speed up the delivery.
"The delivery of the aircraft will commence from September 2019 and will be completed by April 2022. There is no anticipation of any delay in the scheduled delivery of the aircraft," Arun Jaitley, India's Minister of Defense informed the Parliament on Friday.On July 18 this year, Chief of Indian Air Force, B S Dhanoa visited the production facility of Dassault Aviation in France where Rafale jets meant for India were being manufactured and had reviewed the expected delivery time for the first batch of aircraft. Last year, India had sent a formal request to France to expedite the delivery of Rafale jets."As per terms of the deal it is 36 months (during which the delivery has to start), but it may come slightly earlier. We have requested them to (deliver it) as fast as possible," Manohar Parrikar, the then Defense Minister of India had said in a statement.
However, Dassault Aviation's half yearly report released on July 26 indicated a grim possibility of early delivery of Rafale to India. The report said that the company could complete manufacturing only four fighter jets in the first half of the current year as compared to seven aircraft in the same time period last year and the deliveries were made to armed forces of Egypt and France.
"The defense export backlog includes, in particular, 15 Rafale to Egypt (compared to 18 as of December 31, 2016), 24 Rafale to Qatar and 36 Rafale to India," said the report.Nevertheless, Dassault Aviation was upbeat about receiving an additional order of about 700 combat aircraft from the Indian Air Force over the next decade perceiving the threat from neighbors. Dassault Chief Executive Eric Trappier said on July 26 that the company was considering substantial technology transfer to expand the existing Rafale deal with India. "We are building a long-term relationship and I am prepared to study any future for our involvement there (India), whatever it is," Trappier said.However, the Indian Defense Minister has made it clear that purchase of additional combat aircraft cannot be accommodated in the original deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets. He said future deals would be governed by the new defense procurement policy that has a completely different set of guidelines.
"Procurement for the further requirements of fighter aircraft for the IAF will be pursued through the extent procurement procedures," Jaitley added.
The deal between India and France to provide 36 Rafale jets to the Indian Air Force for meetings its critical operational necessity was finalized on September 23, 2016, for a whopping $8.8 billion after numerous hiccups.