News Brief

India Pushes For Lower Rafale-M Acquisition Cost Amid Rs 56,000 Crore French Bid— All You Need To Know

Kuldeep Negi

Jul 09, 2024, 11:47 AM | Updated 11:47 AM IST

Dassault Rafale-M taking-off from an aircraft carrier
Dassault Rafale-M taking-off from an aircraft carrier

The Ministry of Defence is reportedly engaged in negotiations to reduce the acquisition price of Rafale M fighter jets that have been selected to meet the Indian Navy's requirement for aircraft carrier-borne combat aircraft.

The second round of price negotiations has commenced in South Block, with the Indian side aiming to secure the best deal following the French bid of around Rs 56,000 crore for 26 fighter jets, Economic Times reported citing sources.

The fighter jets are urgently required as two Indian aircraft carriers -- INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant -- are now in service and the current fleet of MiG 29K fighters have shown below par performance due to maintenance-related issues.

The urgency for these fighter jets stems from the operational needs of India's two aircraft carriers, INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant, which are now in service.

The current fleet of MiG 29K fighters has been underperforming due to maintenance-related issues.

Following trials of both the Rafale M and the F/A 18 Super Hornet from US' Boeing, the Navy selected the French option, leading to detailed techno-commercial negotiations earlier this year.

The Rafale M jets will be customised to meet Indian requirements and integrated into the Russian-origin Aviation Facility Complex (AFC) on the aircraft carriers, which poses some technical challenges.

The fighter jets are to be bought off the shelf as the numbers are not adequate to set up a production line in India.

France, however, has offered to set up a production line if the order increases to around a hundred aircraft, pitching a larger deal for the Rafale fighters.

The Rafale is already operational with the Indian Air Force, which ordered 36 jets in 2016 for nearly Rs 59,000 crore. The French side is strongly pitching it to be acquired in greater numbers.

The Air Force has a requirement of 114 fighter jets of the same type but, as of now, seems to be going for a competitive bidding process for the acquisition.

These carrier-borne Rafale jets are intended as a stop-gap solution until an indigenous carrier-borne fighter jet, the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter, is developed.

This indigenous project is expected to take nearly a decade to become operational.

Also Read: US Expresses Concerns Over India-Russia Relations, Urges PM Modi To Raise Ukraine Issue In Meeting With Putin

Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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