July 24, 2018

Delivery of 36 Rafale aircrafts to begin next year: Defence Minister

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said, the delivery of 36 Rafale aircrafts in a fly-way condition along with associated equipment and weapons will commence from September next year.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Ms Sitharaman said, as per the inter-governmental agreement signed between India and France, the delivery will be completed by April 2022.

The Dassault CEO made a strong case for the Rafale for an upcoming Indian Navy requirement for carrier borne jets, saying the Rafale is the only jet with dedicated air force and naval versions. "We want to continue beyond the 36 jets on order. The requirement is around 200 jets for India and a naval order as well," he said.

Dassault, however, believes that the current order of 36 jets would not be sufficient to transfer high-end manufacturing or technology to India. Trappier said extra orders would need to be placed by 2017-18 to come up with a larger Make in India plan that would involve shifting heavy work.

On choosing Reliance Defence to be a major offset partner, Dassault said its main Indian partner in the past - HAL - was busy with several projects like the light combat aircraft and the choice was to go with a new entrant into the defence field.

"We were told that HAL was fully booked. We talked to Reliance and they were very keen to create such capabilities in India. They have a track record and the financial capability as well," Trappier said. Dassualt said there would be other Indian partners as part of the offset programme also as the company does not have an exclusive agreement with Reliance.

The Indian Air Force has made it clear that it needs much more of the medium combat jets in the Rafale category over the coming years. The air force has said India requires 200-250 more aircraft in the middle weight category of fighters that the Rafale falls into. Global aviation giants like Dassault, Airbus, Boeing and Saab are closely watching Indian moves to select a combat aircraft for a new fighter production line.


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