Jet, set, go
India in September 2016 inked a direct deal with the French government to purchase 36 new Rafale fighter jets in a 7.87 billion euro deal.
India will also get latest weapons like the Meteor and Scalp missiles as part of the contract, besides a five-year support package that assures high availability of the fighter. India will pay a 15% advance and deliveries are to start in three years.
About Rafale jets
Rafale is a twin-engine medium multi-role combat aircraft, manufactured by French company Dassault Aviation. Dassault claims Rafale has ‘Omnirole’ capability to perform several actions at the same time, such as firing air-to-air missiles at a very low altitude, air-to-ground, and interceptions during the same sortie.
The aircraft is fitted with an on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS) which suppresses the need for liquid oxygen re-filling or ground support for oxygen production.
It carry out a wide range of missions: Air-defence/air-superiority, Reconnaissance, close air support dynamic targeting, Air-to-ground precision strike/interdiction, anti-ship attacks, nuclear deterrence, buddy-buddy refueling.
Why India needs Rafale fighter jets
Many international aviation manufactures expressed interest when they got know about the Indian government’s plan to revamp its IAF fleet by introducing Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts.
IAF conducted technical and flight evaluations and in 2011, declared that Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon had met its criteria. Rafale was declared L-1 bidder in 2012 and contract negotiations began with its manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, that year. Contract negotiations remained incomplete even after 2 years, in 2014 due to a lack of agreement on various terms of RFP compliance and cost related issues. There was no deal under the UPA Government.
Transfer of Technology remained the primary issue of concern between the two sides. Dassault Aviation was also not willing to take the responsibility of quality control of production of 108 aircraft in India. While Dassault provisioned for 3 crore man hours for production of the aircraft in India, HAL’s estimate was nearly 3 times higher, escalating costs manifold.