The sale of 36 Dassault Rafale multirole fighters to the Indian Air Force, as agreed upon last week, looks very lucrative for the French aircraft manufacturer. But there is a catch, Dassault is also taken out of the game when it comes to doing direct business in India – with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in both a win and loose situation.
“If there is any future purchase of more of these combat aircraft, they will be done only after direct negotiations between the French and Indian governments,” Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters – including those of international press agency Reuters – on Monday 13 April.
The statement seems both good and bad news for the indigenous aviation industry of India, led by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Good, because the New Delhi government has signaled to find the Rafale quite expensive making possibly more room for HAL’s Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) that is already due to stream into the Air Force and Naval Air Arm by numbers. Bad, because HAL’s hope for a transfer of Rafale technology to be able to produce 108 of the highly-modern aircraft under license seems now gone up in smoke.
For French Dassault it is now hoping for continuing goodwill and friendship between Paris and New Delhi, to get a follow-on order for its top-of-the-bill multirole fighter. Deemed too expensive even by recent quotes of government officials in New Delhi, the second largest populated country in the world still has agreed to buy 36 of them directly from the French aircraft factory. The final target of the Indian Air Force: to beef up its fighter strength from the current 34 squadrons to the approved 42. That’ll mean a lot of new aircraft to come.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Indian-French Rafale deal puts Dassault and HAL on distance (Image © Marcel Burger)