For the first time since January 31, 2012, when the FrenchRafale fighter was chosen as the future medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF), it has been officially admitted that there are serious problems in negotiating the purchase with the French vendor, Dassault.
Business Standard had reported on Dassault’s unwillingness to assume responsibility for the production of Rafales by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which the tender mandated. HALis to build 108 Rafales in India with technology transferred from Dassault and its sub-vendors.
Ominously for Dassault, Parrikar said additional Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, which HAL builds in Nashik, were adequate for the IAF in case it was decided not to procure the Rafale.
The IAF currently plans to have 272 Su-30MKI fighters by about 2018. HAL’s Nashik production line is building the fighter at Rs 358 crore each, less than half the estimated cost of buying the Rafale.
“The Su-30MKI is an adequate aircraft for meeting the air force’s needs,” said Parrikar.
Earlier this month, Parrikar had assured French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, during the latter’s visit to New Delhi on December 1, that Rafale negotiations would be placed on a “fast track”, according to ministry of defence (MoD) officials.
The minister revealed on Tuesday that the French minister “has (committed) to send an empowered person to negotiate after New Year.”
According to the terms of the MMRCA tender, 18 of the 126 fighters being bought would be supplied fully built abroad, with the remaining 108 manufactured by HAL. The cost of the project, originally sanctioned at Rs 42,000 crore, has crossed Rs 1,00,000 crore, according to expert estimates. (Business Standard)