The Rs 58,000 crore deal executed by India to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France is undoubtedly one the most well negotiated pacts and one that will bring along huge gains for the domestic aviation industry besides creating job openings for the people of India.
This deal is the first since the purchase of Sukhois from Russia in the late 90s and is considered a win-win for India, the most significant feature of this contract being the enhancements for India which even French aircrafts do not have.
In an exclusive chat with DefenceAviationPost.com soon after the signing of the deal, Union Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar said, “In any foreign deal, there are 3-4 things that have to be taken care of. First is the cost, which we have negotiated at a much lesser price than the earlier price being quoted by the French team.”
It is noteworthy to point here that the 7.878 billion Euros deal has been clinched at a price that is 750 million euros less than what was quoted by the French team in January 2016.
“Second is the percentage of offsets which in this case is much higher than any other foreign military sales so far. This creates a huge potential for the domestic aviation industry and is in line with the Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative,” the minister said.
It may be mentioned here that deal comes with a 50% offset clause which means that Indian companies will get businesses worth over 3 billion euros or Rs 22,500 crores.
Parrikar said the most significant feature of this contract are the enhancements for India which even French aircrafts do not have.
Firstly, these fighter jets come along with state-of-the-art missile weaponry profile that increases the strike capabilities of the IAF to a great extent. It includes Meteor Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile with a range in excess 150 kms. Then it also comes along with Scalp (Pointed Offence) which is a long range air to surface cruise missile with a range of over 300 kms.
Further, these fighter jets will be customised in line with the requirements of the IAF and will include Helmet Mounted Displays, radar warning receiver, infrared search and track among others.
“So from all directions it is a win-win deal for India. Rafale is a potent aircraft and will add to the capability of the IAF,” the minister added.
Experts say that Rafale coming fitted with Meteors and Scalp will shake up Pakistan Air Force hugely and PLAAF (air warfare branch of China) to a fair extent.
They added that the enhancements negotiated under the deal for 36 Rafale means that India’s adversaries will need four modern fighter jets to counter one Rafale. Simply put, the enemy will need four Su30 or four F16D (latest acquired by Pakistan) or four JF17 (which again Pakistan has) to counter one Rafale with its existing capabilities.
“This 1:4 ratio will clearly give Indian an edge over its adversaries and the deal for 36 Rafale is equivalent to procuring 144 modern fighter jets,” an official said requesting anonymity.
Timelines is another major aspect of this deal. The deliveries of fighter jets will start in 36 months and completed in 18 months thereon.
Under the contract, the French manufacturer Dassault has to ensure that 75% of the fleet or 27 fighters are operationally available at any given time.