India, France May Sign 36 Rafale Fighters Deal Next Week

Rafale fighter jet aircraft, manufactured by Dassault Aviation SA.

 

New Delhi and Paris could sign a contract to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets as early as next week, The Times of India reported on Friday, citing defense sources.

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — According to the newspaper, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will arrive in New Delhi on Tuesday to sign an intergovernmental agreement on the Rafale deal, which could be followed by the signing of a commercial contract.In April, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande agreed to supply the Indian Air Force with 36 French-built Rafale fighters.

The contract is still at the discussion stage, with the negotiating committee considering the 50 percent offset requirements, as well as the arms and equipment the fighters will be fitted with, The Times of India reported.

According to the newspaper, the delivery of the first aircraft to India will take place about two years after the contact is signed.

India and France have been negotiating the deal for over three years, during which time the deal’s budget has almost doubled.The initial price quoted to India for each of the 36 Rafale aircraft was 25 percent higher than the $200-million price tag offered to the Indian prime minister during his April visit to France.

The Rafale is a French fourth generation multirole twin-engine fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation.

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India’s MMRCA: Implications for Russia

 

The continuing saga of the Indian Air Force’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) has again arrived at an impasse, providing opportunities again for Russia
The Rafale may be an ultra modern aircraft but it can't outrun or outgun a Russian Flanker. Source: AP
The Rafale aircraft Source: AP
The serial drama of the MMRCA tender; for purchase and licensed production of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft; reached an intermediate junction.

During a visit in April 2015 to France by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an announcement was made about the signing of an ‘agreement in principle’ on direct purchase of 36 fighter jets by the Rafale Company which, in 2013, was declared the formal winner of the MMRCA Tender.
Since then, for over two years, India and France continued commercial negotiations to finalize the contract, but could not arrive at a mutually acceptable compromise to implement the deal. The scale of the purchase announced in April was significantly smaller than initially expected, and, with this deal, production of aircraft in India is no longer part of the agreement.

There was uncertainty for a while about the future plans of the Indian government and its national Air Force about the licensed production of Rafale fighter jets. It was not known whether this purchase of 36 aircraft was a separate deal, implemented over and above the MMRCA Program, or the purchase constituted just the first tranche of the planned purchase of 126 fighter jets. If the latter was true, then how many planes would be built under license in India?

Some weeks later, India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made a sensational announcement; India was going to purchase 36 aircraft from Rafale, and nothing more. The funds thus saved, which should have gone towards the purchase of licensed production of Rafale aircraft, would now be directed to the purchase of 200 Tejas light fighter jets that are produced in India.

Notwithstanding this announcement, in early August, reports started circulating in the Indian press that the government was going to announce a new tender for the licensed production in India of 90 MMRC fighter jets, but the accuracy of this information is in question.

If the announcement, made by the Indian minister, reflects the real intentions of the Indian leadership, and is not just an element in the bargaining game with the French, it signifies the actual cancellation of this ambitious project: “the mother of all tenders”. In essence, this means the Indians have gone back to a different, higher quality and lower quantitative level, at which they initially began; the direct purchase from the French of fourth-generation multi-role fighter jets.

Opportunities for Russia

The actual cancellation of the MMRCA Tender, theoretically improves Russia’s chances in two ways. First, there is the opportunity to sell one more tranche of Su-30MKI fighter jets to India. The decision on the direct purchase of Rafale fighter jets answers the interests of the military, but it does not solve the issue of new orders for the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Corporation. By early 2015, this company had already manufactured 150 licensed units, and the Indian aircraft manufacturers still had orders for several dozen Su-30MKI. At the present rate of production, in a couple of years, HAL will have completed this order, and then there will be no more work for the company.

It is logical to assume that, in anticipation of the start of licensed production of the Rafale, if a contract should still be signed or, which is more likely, before the production of the fifth-generation fighter FGFA can start, HAL would have to be given work for another two or three years. Which means India will need to purchase rights to the licensed production of slightly more than 40 Su-30MKI. From a military standpoint, this will create two more squadrons, and cover the normal attrition of these aircraft through accidents and disasters. It would be advisable to build the new technologically modernized version of the Su-30, referred to as the Sukhoi Super.

Second, and most important, a direct and immediate threat to the joint Russian-Indian fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) project has been removed. The danger in the MMRCA Program lay in the fact that the purchase and licensed production of the obsolescent and extremely expensive French aircraft would have deprived India of resources needed for funding the fifth-generation fighter jets.

The Rafale was like a vampire – being able to kill the FGFA, and thus rob India of possible access to fifth-generation fighter jet technologies. Over the past two to three years, the real competition in the Indian military aviation market was between the Rafale and FGFA. Among other things, it has become clearly understood that the campaign in the Indian press against FGFA was initiated and financed by the French. Now the Indians have found a compromise (which satisfies neither the French nor the Russians, and this is the best indicator that this solution is best for India), which leaves India with the opportunity to develop in both directions; to purchase the Rafale, while not killing the FGFA.

New shot for the MiG-35 in India

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is finalizing a new tender for purchase of medium-sized multirole fighters. The tender’s main condition is that the supplier consents to the aircraft being assembled in India. The main issue to watch will be whether the Russian MiG-35 can out-manoeuvre its French competitor, the Rafale fighter, this time around.

MiG-35. Source: MiG Corporation

MiG-35. Source: MiG Corporation

After the Indian government opted to buy 36 Rafale jet fighters “off the shelf” during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France earlier this year, the Indian Defence Ministry is preparing to acquire more fighter aircraft to fulfil the needs of the armed forces.

According to the Indian news agency IANS, Indian authorities are preparing to issue an official tender proposal for the supply of 90 new medium-sized fighters for the Indian Air Force. According to IANS, participants in the earlier bid (to acquire 126 aircraft originally) for purchase of  medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), which ended with the government deciding to buy only 36 Rafale fighters, will be invited to participate in the tender. This means that the Russian MiG-35, which lost out to the Rafale bid last time, can again take part in the bid.

The first conditions for the tender were formulated back in 2005. Due to a variety of delays and coordination efforts, commercial proposals for the bid were only accepted from 2007. The IAF needed to buy 126 airplanes, for which the Russian MiG-35 (a totally revamped version of the MiG-29), the French Rafale, the all-European Eurofighter Typhoon, the Swedish Grippen, and the American F-16 all competed. It was the largest defence deal ever for India.

The MiG-35 failed to make it to the bid’s shortlist. In 2012, it was announced that the Rafale had won the tender. Later on, however, various delays and difficult negotiations between the French manufacturers and the Indian authorities began.

The Indian side was dissatisfied with the increase in the price for the lifecycle maintenance contract as well as on the price of the aircraft itself. Also, the two sides could not agree on the principles regarding the possible transfer of technology, which India insisted upon. As a result, in 2015, the contract for the supply of 126 fighters was annulled and replaced with one for the purchase of 36 fighters, which India agreed to buy in France directly.

The Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar informed Parliament last week that the government has officially withdrawn the multi-billion dollar tender for the 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircrafts (MMRCA), for which Rafale was shortlisted in 2012.

According the IANS news agency’s sources in the Indian armed forces, all the participants in the 2007 bid should be invited for the new tender – including the Russian MiG-35. The agency’s interlocutors particularly emphasized that, following the new tender, the aircraft must be manufactured in India. This will make it one of the elements of the “Make in India” project, an ambitious programme launched by the current Prime Minister Modi, which involves bringing new technologies to India and localizing modern production within the country.

The inclusion of new defence projects in the programme still faces certain difficulties. In particular, P. Srinivasan Raghavan, Ambassador of India to the Russian Federation,said in a July interview with the Press Trust of India that, possibly, the only defence project in the “Make in India” programme will be deployment of the manufacture of the Russian Ka-226 transport helicopter to India. Now, a more ambitious and much larger project involving producing fighter planes may be part of ‘Make in India.’

United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) representatives told Gazeta.ru that they are not ready yet to comment on the possible participation in a tender that has yet to be announced. In the opinion of Russian aviation industry experts, such participation is quite likely. The opinions of the experts interviewed differed, however, regarding the chances for winning such a potential tender.

“In their defence policy, the Indians have always been distinguished by their unwillingness to put all their eggs in one basket, and the fact that they try to choose suppliers from various countries, said Ruslan Gusarov, editor of the Avia.ru website. “They are working with us on the production of the Su-30 heavy fighters, so they decided to choose Rafale for lighter class fighters. But the MiG-35 may have an advantage in the tender. India is definitely interested in technology transfer above all, and we are willing to share it more than others.” In the opinion of Gusarov, the Russian aviation market, including for military products, is not so great, so India presents good opportunities for developing promising projects.

An expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Maksim Shapovalenko regards with greater scepticism the prospects for the Russian fighter in the new competition: “The new bid is factually a continuation of the former. The project for the supply of 126 Rafale fighters fell through, primarily because of the inability to agree on a procedure for the transfer of technology to India. The French agreed to a transfer in principle; however, they refused to take responsibility for a product which would be assembled in India, rightly mistrusting the quality of assembly. I do not exclude the possibility that the new tender is just a suave way of getting the manufacturer Rafale to finally accept India’s terms.”

India Withdraws Request for 126 Rafale Fighters From France

A Rafale fighter jet

 

India has withdrawn its request for 126 multirole Rafale fighters from France, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said Friday.

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) – Parrikar said in late May that New Delhi required only 36 Rafale fighter aircraft instead of the previously planned 126. A month earlier, the French and Indian leaders announced a scaling down of the 2012 contract on the supply of 126 jets.”The Request For Proposal (RFP) issued earlier for procurement of 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) has been withdrawn,” Parrikar said in a written reply to the Indian upper house of parliament.

He added that the Indian government intends to acquire 36 jets “in fly-away condition as quickly as possible.”

The multibillion dollar project has long been clouded by uncertainty due to high cost and French manufacturer Dassault Aviation’s unwillingness to guarantee the performance of ther aircraft licensed to be produced in India under transfer of technology agreements.

The terms of the latest deal include aircraft configurations, capable of reconnaissance and nuclear strike missions, to be tested and approved by India and a longer maintenance responsibility by France.

Last week, Parrikar said a government team has been set up to negotiate the terms and conditions of the Rafale contract.

French President Inks Rafale Sale Deal During Qatar Visit

 

A Rafale fighter jet flies over the factory of French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation in Merignac near Bordeaux, France, in this March 4, 2015 file photo

 

French President François Hollande signed with Qatari leaders a multi-billion-euro deal to sell Rafale fighter jets to the emirate shortly after he arrived in Doha at the start on Monday of a two-day tour of the Middle East.

The 6.3-billion-euro agreement includes an order for 24 jets manufactured by French defense group Dassault with an option on a further 12 planes, AFP reported from Doha.

Another contract will involve the training of 36 Qatari pilots and around one hundred mechanics.

Hollande met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to discuss the crises rocking the region, including Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on anti-government rebels in Yemen.

From Doha he will be heading to Saudi Arabia to meet King Salman and attend a key Gulf Cooperation Council summit opening there on Tuesday.

After years of trying to sell its Rafale jets abroad, Dassault has recently clinched several lucrative contracts with Egypt and India.

France is about to ink another fighter jet deal soon as negotiations with the UAE appear to be headed in the “right direction”, according Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Experts believe that aside from the Rafale jets’ proven successes in combat zones like Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, French policy in the Middle East has played a significant role in securing the sales, the AFP report said.

India Confirms Purchasing Half of Original Number of Rafale Fighter Jets

Rafale fighter jets

 
India will purchase half of the initially planned number of French Rafale fighter jets, a source in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs told Sputnik on Friday.

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) – In 2012, India announced plans to buy 126 Rafale jets from French company Dassault Aviation. According to the source at the ministry, Indian authorities have altered that original announcement, stating now they will purchase around 60.

Earlier in the day, France’s Le Monde newspaper reported that India was aiming to buy 63 Rafale jets for $7.7 billion.

 

Earlier on Friday, the source told Sputnik that India and France were likely to sign a deal on the Rafale jets on April 10.The Rafale deal is expected to be discussed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande during Modi’s three-day visit to France that started on Thursday.

Previously, media reports suggested that India might cancel the deal with France altogether and consider Russian or British fighter jets instead.

India looks to speed up T-50 procurement due to Rafale contract delays

"India looks to speed up T-50 procurement due to Rafale contract delays
India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has reportedly become so frustrated with the impasse in negotiations with Dassault over the contract for the Rafale fighter aircraft that it has decided to accelerate the timetable for the localised production of Russia’s PAK-FA/T-50 fifth-generation fighter.

he contract for this programme, in which India has a subsidiary role in the development of a version of the aircraft tailored to their requirements, is in the final stages of negotiation.

The plan was to have had the T-50 produced in India, much like another Russian-designed fighter, the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, which has been in series production for more than a decade at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) plant in Nasik."

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has reportedly become so frustrated with the impasse in negotiations with Dassault over the contract for the Rafale fighter aircraft that it has decided to accelerate the timetable for the localised production of Russia’s PAK-FA/T-50 fifth-generation fighter.

he contract for this programme, in which India has a subsidiary role in the development of a version of the aircraft tailored to their requirements, is in the final stages of negotiation.

The plan was to have had the T-50 produced in India, much like another Russian-designed fighter, the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, which has been in series production for more than a decade at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) plant in Nasik.