India’s struggle to modernise its Soviet-era fighter aircraft fleet with 36 Rafale multirole fighter jets may soon be a reality as the file on acquiring them has reportedly reached the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for approval. In January, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande had signed an intergovernmental agreement, leaving the task to the negotiation committee to resolve financial issues.
Ministry of Defence has cleared the negotiation committee’s report and sent it for the approval of Cabinet Committee for Security (CCS), reports PTI. The current CCS consists of the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley and Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar.
If the deal is given a green-light, the Indian Air Force will clear the decks for finally acquiring the French twin-engine aircraft built by Dassault Aviation.
During his trip to Paris in April 2015, Modi had announced that India would be buying the jets from France in fly-away condition. However, in July 2015, India withdrew the tender for 126 aircraft under the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition.
The cost for the 36 fighter jets is expected to be 7.89 billion Euros. It was brought down from 10 billion Euros. The deal is inclusive of the weapons systems like Meteor beyond visual range (BVR) missiles and Israeli helmet mounted display.
Equipped with a wide range of weapons, Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. Dassault has to deliver 50 per cent offsets, which is expected to create business worth at least 3 billion Euros for Indian companies and offer jobs through the offsets.