Govt green-lights buy of 26 Rafales fighters, 3 Scorpene subs from France

Price, terms & conditions of the buys are subject to negotiations between the govts

PTI05_31_2023_000067A Four Rafale jets of the Indian Air Force conduct a long-range mission lasting over six hours delivering pinpoint precision strikes, in the Indian Ocean Region | PTI

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the country’s top defence panel on procurement, on Thursday, cleared three major proposals in a confirmatory signal that these key military deals will be inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to France beginning Thursday.

The three plans that were approved include the buying of 26 Rafale Marine aircraft, three additional Scorpene class submarines and the finalisation of a plan to lay down guidelines for achieving the desired indigenous content in all categories of capital acquisition cases.

The additional Rafales (naval variant) along with the 36 already bought off the shelf for the Indian Air Force will put the total number of the 4.5 generation Rafale fighter at a formidable 62.

In a statement just before his departure on Thursday, PM Modi said: “I am travelling to France on an official visit at the invitation of my friend, H.E. Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of France, from July 13-14. This visit is particularly special as I will join President Macron for the French National Day, or Bastille Day celebrations in Paris as the Guest of Honour.”

The 26 Rafales for the Indian Navy will come with “associated ancillary equipment, weapons, simulator, spares, documentation, crew training and logistic support for the Indian Navy” based on the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA).

There will be government-to-government negotiations on the price and other terms of purchase “after taking into account all relevant aspects, including comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries.”

Integration of Indian-designed equipment and establishment of a Maintenance, Repair & Operations (MRO) Hub for various systems will be incorporated into the contract documents after due negotiations.

The three Scorpene submarines, which will be constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), will have higher indigenous content than in the case of the six submarines of the same class already procured.

The submarine deal would come as a relief to the French industry after Australia cancelled its $90 billion submarine-making deal with France just after the setting up of a multilateral military grouping—the AUKUS (Australia-UK and US)—was set up in September 2021.

The indigenisation plan for India will “create significant employment opportunities in the domestic sector” besides helping “the MDL in further enhancing its capability and expertise in submarine construction.”

The negotiations will also include the insertion of clauses for the establishment of a hub for Maintenance, Repair & Operations (MRO) for the various systems in the contract document.

From Paris, PM Modi will fly out to Abu Dhabi on July 15 for an official visit to the United Arab Emirates.

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