India, France ink deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets
India and France has signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of 7.87 billion Euros.
The deal was signed by Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian. Eric Trappier in New Delhi.
This is the first fighter aircraft deal signed by India with other country since the purchase of Sukhoi aircrafts from Russia in the late 1990’s.
- The defence deal includes the aircraft in fly-away condition, simulators, weapons, spares, maintenance, and Performance Based Logistics support for five years.
- The Rafale is a twin-engine fighter, multi-role fighter aircraft manufactured by French aviation company Dassault.
- These aircrafts is capable of carrying out all combat missions such as interception, air defence, in-depth strikes, ground support, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
- They will come with various India- specific modifications including Israeli helmet mounted displays, low band jammers, radar warning receivers, infra-red search and tracking, 10 hour flight data recording, towed decoy systems among others.
- The weapons package of deal includes Meteor radar guided Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile which is considered the best in the class with range of over 150 kms.
- It also includes Scalp long range air to ground missiles. Meteor missile has a superior BVR than any of its competitor in the South Asia region.
- The Rafale fighter jets are likely to succeed ageing fleet of Indian Air Force (IAF’s) Mirage fighters for nuclear warhead delivery as part of India’s nuclear doctrine.
- They will be stationed at two IAF bases, Sarsawa in Haryana and Hasimara in West Bengal.
- Integration of Meteor missile on Rafale jets give IAF air superiority to hit targets inside both Pakistan and across northern and eastern borders while staying within India’s territorial boundary.
The deal comes after 17 months of tough negotiations since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision for direct purchase of the Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition in April 2014 citing “critical operational necessity” of the Indian Air Force (IAF).