By Anupama Airy
- After years of hectic negotiations, India signed a significant deal with France to purchase 36 Rafale planes
- The 7.8 billion euros or Rs 58,000 crore deal was signed at Hyderabad House in New Delhi between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean Yves LeDrian on September 23.
- Chairman and CEO, Eric Trappier of Dassault Aviation–the French company that will manufacture Rafale planes for India was also present.
Details of The Deal:
- This is India’s first fighter jet deal since the purchase of Sukhois from Russia in the late 90’s.
- These are twin engine fighter planes manufactured by French aviation firm, Dassault.
- Apart from 36 aircrafts, the deal includes weapons, spares, support and Performance Based Logistics support for five years.
- About 15% or nearly Rs 8700 crore is being paid in advance .
- The deliveries of fighter jets will start in 36 months and completed in 18 months thereon.
- Fighter jets to be customised in line with the requirements of the IAF.
- 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.
- The 36 advanced fighter jets from France will come equipped with weaponry –the Meteor missile.
- Meteor are the most advanced air to air missiles in the world
- Meteor can knock out the enemy planes and cruise missiles more than 150 km away, higher than the BVRs with Pakistan and China.
- Experts say that at least 3 to 4 JF17 or F16 or Chinese Su30, J11 will be required to counter one Rafale.
- Basic cost of this multi-role fighter aircraft is around Rs 680 crore. With the weapon package that includes the Meteor radar guided Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile, the cost comes to Rs 1600 crore per plane.
- The aircraft will be customised in line with the requirements of the IAF which include Helmet Mounted Displays, radar warning receiver, infrared search and track among others.
- The deal comes with a 50% offset clause which means that Indian companies will get businesses worth over 3 billion euros or close to Rs 22,500 crores.
- Defence sources said that one main point of the offset was that 74 per cent of it has to be imported from India.
- The offset, spread over a period of seven years, will be finalised shortly
Significance of Rafale Deal for India
- Rafale is an exceptional twin-engine fighter and is capable of carrying out all combat missions including air defence, interception, ground support,in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
- It has everything to qualify as fifth generation aircraft minus the stealth.
- Its radar and BVR capabilities are the best in the world (so experts call it a 4.5 generation)
- Only the US has 5th Gen Fighters in F22 and F35.
- Since air power is most sensitive to technology, the offence defence ratios change significantly with each technological jump
- Experts say that Rafale coming fitted with Meteors will shake up Pakistan Air Force hugely and PLAAF to a fair extent.
- India’s squadrons of modern, versatile fighters are depleting. As against 44 squadrons once, India now has 34 with older planes like MiG21s and MiG27s, making up for the many squadrons.
- Rafale was chosen after lot of indepth studies and testing by the IAF that included Swedish Grippen, American F16 and F18, Russian MiG35, Eurofighter Typhoon and French Rafale.
Is The Deal for 36 Rafale jets enough
- Although the deal was originally envisaged to be for 126 aircraft with an option of 74 more, the final agreement has settled around 36 jets.
- India needs more than 36 Rafale jets to counter China
- Experts say that IAF needs 50-55 fighter squardons to cater for two front war.
- India has an existing strength of 32 but needs to meet at the earliest the sanctioned strength of 45 squardons at the earliest.
- As induction of these Rafale planes will take over 5 years, so quick decision making on procurement is a must
- Simultaneously LCA production should not be allowed to slowdown akin to Su30 production by HAL
- FGFA also needs to be pushe to cater for relatively safe window upto 2020.