The planned purchase of the French-built Dassault Rafale 5th generation fighter by India will not go through this year, Indian Defence Minister Antony acknowledged during a press conference in New Delhi on 6 February 2014.
With already huge defence imports and expenses there are no funds left for the Rafale purchase. Antony said that 92 percent of the 2014 defence budget has already been spent or allocated.
The Indian Air Force is long awaiting 126 Rafales to help improving its combat fleet, that includes 125 vulnerable MiG-21 Bisons. The French-made fighter is only part of the modernisations program, as India is planning to buy up to 220 of its indigenous Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas fighters.
Dassault top officials visited India as recent as the last week of January to try to push the deal in its right direction, but apparently to no avail. Even the first part of the plan – the purchase of 18 planes directly from France – has been stalling since 2012. India wants HAL to partly build and assemble the additional 100 Rafales locally.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger