India is set to buy 36 Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday 10 April during a visit to France. The announcement comes after a long and difficiult negotiation process which initially revolved around 126 Rafales. According to this tweet from Dassault Aviation’s vice-president of corporate communication however, today’s buy is a separate deal and negotiations about the initial deal continue.
The Indians have requested 36 Rafales in fly-away condition as soon as possible, it emerged in Paris. Dassault confirmed the request in a statement. Various sources expect a deal to be signed very soon now, ending a rocky road of negotiations. Over the last few months, expectations for this deal went from ‘contract about to be signed’ to ‘India looking at other options’. The latter involved more Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker fighter aircraft, augmenting India’s already considerable Flanker fleet.
It remains unclear what India and Dassault’s interpretation of ‘fly-away condition’ is. It seems unlikely the aircraft will be pulled from French Air Force resources, at French Rafales are currently involved in operations over Iraq. It could point to Dassault increasing its production of new aircraft in ‘fly-away condition’.
A possible dealbreaker were France’s reported reservations about Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) produced Rafales. The intention in New Delhi was to buy 18 Dassault-produced Rafales, with the remaining 108 to be built by HAL. Talks on this are said to continue separate from the deal announced today.
Dassault says it welcomes the ‘intention to finalize the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft at conditions that will allow to meet rapidly the security needs of India’. Dassault and India have a long lasting relationship. Only last month, the French company re-delivered the first upgraded Mirage 2000s back to the Indian Air Force.
The deal is very good news for Dassault, as it comes just weeks after Egypt decided to buy 24 Rafales. Qatar is named as another likely Rafale customer.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest