Tuesday, December 5th, 2023

PM Modi in France, approval given to the proposal to buy 26 Rafale fighter jets, 3 Scorpene

New Delhi: India on Thursday approved proposals for procurement of 26 naval prototypes of Rafale fighter jets and three French-designed Scorpene class submarines from France. The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, approved the procurement proposals on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a two-day visit to Paris and a day after he/she would hold wide-ranging talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. Both the major procurement projects could be worth between Rs 80,000 crore to Rs 85,000 crore. The defense ministry said the procurement of Rafale fighter jets along with procurement of related support equipment including weapon systems and spares would be based on an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA). and the price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French Government after considering all relevant aspects.

Both India and France are likely to make announcements on the big project after Modi and Macron’s wide-ranging talks on Friday. Both sides want to further expand their already strong strategic and defense ties. Indian and French officials are also in talks to see French defense manufacturer Safran join hands with an Indian defense manufacturer to manufacture a fighter aircraft engine in India. This engine will be produced for India’s next generation aircraft and future modern medium combat aircraft.

Ministry of Defense said the DAC has ‘accepted the requirement’ for the procurement of 26 Rafale seaplanes along with related accessories, weapons, simulators, spares, documentation, crew training etc. for the Indian Navy from the Government of France on the basis of Inter-Governmental Agreement ‘ (aon) provided.

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It said the delivery of the planes would begin within three years from the signing of the contract. It said it may take a year to finalize the deal as detailed negotiations have to be done on the price. The ministry said the price and other terms of purchase would be negotiated with the French government after considering all relevant aspects including comparable purchase price of similar aircraft from other countries.

Integration of India-designed equipment and setting up of Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) hubs for multiple systems will be included in the contract document after necessary negotiations, the ministry said in a statement. Defense sources said that out of 26 Rafale M aircraft, four will be aircraft trainers. The Rafale-M aircraft is the naval variant of this deck-based platform.

The DAC is the apex body of the Ministry of Defense that takes decisions on defense procurement. It also approved a proposal to manufacture three more Scorpene submarines in India. The Defense Procurement Board (DPB) had approved the projects a week back. Officials said the Indian Navy is looking at procuring 26 deck-based fighters for the indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

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