India has given the go-ahead for the purchase of 26 Rafale M naval fighters from France, and the deal could be announced as early as Friday, local media reports, during the French national holiday of Bastille Day, for which the prime minister Indian, Narendra Modi, is the guest of honor. India will also provide a contingent for the military parade to be held in Paris for the holiday.
In addition to the Rafales, India’s Defense Procurement Board (DPP) on Monday approved the acquisition of three more Scorpène-class diesel-electric submarines, adding to the six just completed by India’s Mazagon Docks, which are known as the Kalvari class in Indian Navy service.
Indian media reported that the combined value of the two deals could reach 90 billion rupees (about $10.9 billion), but the final value will depend on financial negotiations that will follow the announcement. Both deals will be government-to-government sales, in which the French government guarantees the price and compliance of the weapons it orders from its suppliers and supplies to India.
Industry sources said that for the Rafale M deal, India and France are expected to form a joint team to negotiate the deal as was done for the earlier Rafale deal of 36 fighter jets, the Economic Times reported on Monday.
However, the Indian order for Rafale could be larger than anticipated.
As of December 2022, the Indian Air Force had prepared plans to order 18 Rafale B/C air force variants from France and assemble 36 more in India, bringing its total Rafales procurement to 90 aircraft. In 2018, Dassault Aviation concluded agreements with the private group Reliance to create a joint venture, Dassault-Reliance Aviation Ltd., to produce Rafale parts locally in India to conform to the government’s “Make in India” policy. Modi, but the deal could well be extended to assemble the Rafale.
Previous attempts to involve state-owned Hindustan Aerospace Industries in the final assembly of the Rafale failed because Dassault refused to take contractual responsibility for HAL’s quality controls, over which it had no control.
India’s order for Rafale M naval fighters is a pressing need as the Indian Navy’s current fighters, the Russian-supplied MiG-29Ks, have increased availability problems, mostly due to short engine lifespan and already obsolete avionics.
The Boeing F-18E/F Super Hornet was also in the running for the Indian order, but the fact that its production line will close soon due to lack of orders, in addition to its subpar performance, made Indian Navy personnel I preferred the French fighter. The coincidence with the Rafale of the Indian Air Force also allows for a common line of spare parts and common training for air and ground personnel.
The Rafale-M, like the F/A-18, is adapted to the short takeoff and arrested recovery technology required for its deck deployment on INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya, India’s two aircraft carriers, which use a ski jump to launch the planes and arresting cables to retrieve them.