Amid growing tension with China and ever changing Global Political situation in South Asian region, Modi Government is likely to approve at least another set of 36 Rafale Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft very soon.
As per the sources the decision is still due and under consideration, but it seem the possibility of more aircraft has been considered in view of the Indian Navy’s requirement of 56 twin-engine shipboard fighters. Apart from that it is also being considered as a logical decision to boost Modi government’s Make in India initiative. If India purchase only 36 Rafales, then it would not be economical to set up their manufacturing infrastructure here in India.
Apart from that the reason is the lack of Combat Jet inventory of Indian Air force. IAF is looking for at least 400 Combat Ready Single and twin engine fighters as most of its combat jet inventory is of the 1980s Soviet generation. The Mirage 2000 was also acquired 30 years back.
Though Mirage 2000 is still a formidable fighter Jet and some of the Jets have been recently upgraded with the latest Technology by Thales. The same organization which is providing the highly sophisticated EW systems for the Rafales.
The Indian Navy has already expressed its preference for either the Boeing F/A 18 Super Hornet or Rafale. Both these fighters were designed especially for aircraft carriers, and both are on offer for their industrial production in India with guaranteed Transfer of Technology. Boeing has also offered to manufacture the latest variant, Advanced Super Hornet, which is extensively used by US Navy.
So it can be said that if the deal is only for 36 more aircraft, then the field would be open for a larger number of twin-engine aircraft for both the IAF and Navy. However If the proposed deal is for indigenous production for more than 36, then Rafale would become the final choice.
India had opted for the French Rafale after rigorous Testing of many years by Defence forces. In 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris, and an agreement was signed between the Defence Ministers of the two countries, Mr. Manohar Parrikar and his visiting counterpart, Mr Jean Yves Le Drian.The first payment of 15 per cent was immediately released by India to seal the deal.
This initial deal included the cost of the aircraft, IAF-specific modifications, Weapons and Missiles, Operations and Maintenance infrastructure at two locations in India. Apart from that 50 per cent Offsets as investment in India, was pegged at about Euro 7.87 billion.
If India moves ahead with the acquisition of another 36 aircraft, then the cost of Jet Fighter will further lower down, as the expenditure for India-specific modifications and infrastructure at two locations have already been recovered. We would also like to mention that initial work in this regard at Ambala in Haryana and Hashimara in West Bengal has already begun.
This deals will be a G-to-G or Government to Government as the earlier one, this is to avoid any unnecessary allegations. The Offsets clause would help India to construct a modern Defence Industrial environment. It will certainly attract many Rafale partners like Dassault which builds and integrates the aircraft, Safran which provides the engines and some other onboard systems, Thales which provides the highly advanced EW systems and MBDA, which is supplying the most modern Meteor Air to Air and other missiles.