India clears 26 Rafale-M for Navy: In a major decision to boost its naval power, India Thursday approved procurement of 26 Rafale fighter jets manufactured by French defence company Dassault Aviation and procurement of 3 Scorpene class submarines that are being built in India under licence from French shipbuilder the Naval Group. The proposals were approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting attended by Defence Minister Rajanth Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan
As per the proposal, the Indian Navy will get 22 single-seat Rafale Marine (Rafale-M) aircraft along with four trainer aircraft.
According to the officials, the procurement proposals, which have been accorded the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) by the country’s apex defence purchase body, the DAC, are likely to be announced during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France, sources said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a two-day visit to France on Thursday morning (July 13).
The Navy has been pressing for acquisition of these fighter aircraft and submarines urgently as the force has been facing shortages in view of the security challenges around the country.
The two aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant have been operating the MiG-29s and Indian Navy was looking to acquire Rafale M aircraft for operations on both carriers.
Though the Indian Navy has extensively evaluated F-18 Hornet Jets manufactured by the US defence major Boeing Defense and Space but Rafale Marine manufactured by Dassault Aviation has emerged as the winner for this prestigious contract as India moves away from Soviet era Russian Mig-29 jets to western fighters but opted for French fighters rather than the American F-18.
More Scorpene submarines for Indian Navy
The three Scorpene class submarines would be acquired under the repeat clause by the Navy as part of Project 75 and would be built at the Mazagon Dockyards Limited in Mumbai.
The deals are estimated to be worth over INR 90,000 crore ($11 billion) but the final cost would be clear only after the contract negotiations are completed.
According to officials, India is likely to seek price concessions in the deal and would be insisting on having more ‘Make-in-India’ content.
Industry sources said for the Rafale-Marine deal, India and France are expected to form a joint team for negotiations as was done for the previous Rafale deal for 36 fighter aircraft.
The deal would be negotiated and only after that it would be finalised and implemented by the two sides.
*1 USD = 82.0805 INR