Rafale jet at the induction ceremony in Ambala. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
A Rafale jet at the induction ceremony in Ambala in 2020| Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
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New Delhi: Looking to increase its investment in India, French defence giant Dassault Aviation is game for manufacturing Rafale fighter jets in the country, and will make a fresh pitch for it to the Narendra Modi government, ThePrint has learnt.

French sources in the know of developments said Diplomatic Advisor to the French President, Emmanuel Bonne, who is on a visit to India, will make a pitch of the French government’s offer to make the Rafale fighters in India — if the numbers in play are closer to 100.

If a smaller number comes to pass, the French maker would not manufacture the Rafale in India as a whole but would increase the procurement of parts from the country, sources said.

The offer comes at a time when India is in the middle of induction of the 36 fighter jets ordered in 2016 by the Modi government. While these 36 jets were procured under the emergency clause, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is working on a tender for 114 new fighters.

However, there is speculation in Indian power corridors that it is easier for the country to buy another 36 Rafale fighters, along with indigenous Tejas Mk-2, than to opt for a fresh procurement process.

Top government sources told ThePrint that any call on additional Rafale fighter jets would be taken only after the delivery of the first 36 are complete. However, they noted that the Rafales are expensive.

In October 2020, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria had for the first time officially indicated that the decision to buy two more squadrons of Rafale fighter jets is under consideration.

ThePrint reached Dassault Aviation via email for a comment but there was no response till the time of publishing this report.


Also read: Army plans to keep 2 strike corps for mountains facing China amid Ladakh crisis


Made in India Rafale

Speaking to ThePrint, a source said, “The French government has already told the Indian government that Rafale can be made in India if there are higher numbers. This will also be raised during the strategic level talks and interactions between the two sides at various levels.”

In 2017, France had written to the Modi government to opt for Make in India route for the Rafale jets.

Sources said Dassault Aviation is working on setting up a third hangar at the Nagpur facility, a joint venture with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence.

“The idea is to have five hangars in total. Dassault Aviation already manufacturers and procures engine doors and the canopy from India. The idea is to scale it up with time,” a source said.

On 11 June 2019, ThePrint reported that Dassault Aviation is likely to start manufacturing parts of Rafale fighter jets at its India facility even though it was not part of the original plans.

The Nagpur facility of Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) started making cockpits for the French manufacturer’s Falcon business jets, besides other parts. The idea is to eventually build the Falcon 2000 entirely in India.

Higher order needed

Dassault Aviation would need a higher order of around 100 aircraft to start a Rafale production facility in India, said the sources. The chief executive of the French firm had said the same during the Aero India show in 2019.

“If that is done, Dassault Aviation will have two production lines, one in France and the other in India. The Indian plant will also produce Rafale for other countries,” a source said, pointing out that the fighter is in fray for orders from Greece, Malaysia, Indonesia and Switzerland.

Asked if there is a possibility for Make in India if the French get additional orders for lesser numbers, the sources said it would not be possible but the French firm will increase sourcing of parts from India.


Also read: Upgraded Israeli drones, Airbus aircraft, Tejas — deals on defence ministry agenda for 2021


 

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Indian will happy with 36 more if TOT doesn’t Opted. If we procure more than 100 then we should hv own contribution & modification in technology ,source code , know how etc .

  2. There is no point in having a multitude of vendors for fighter aircraft. If India can get a price advantage and engine technology, we should go for it.

    • India already has the engine technology for long since HAL is in joint venture with Safran for DECADES (Safran absorbed Turbomeca).
      The French companies are into becoming bi-national

  3. Instead of going for stealth aircrafts INDIA should go for radars that detect stealth aircraft also stealth air to air missiles might be a good option given non stealth aircrafts can carry larger payload.

    Ofcourse experts must be thinking along those lines as well, but mentioned it as it seems a good idea and as a point of discussion to elicit PHILLIPS expert opinion.

    If research is happening in this direction please write about it.

    • OSF-IT on Rafale (and DDM-NG) is 2nd gen QWIP and detects+lock on stealth targets from insane distance and even more if coupled with other QWIP assets like the TALIOS pod (multi-mirror telescope effect).
      Rafale has 2nd gen stealth adding active cancellation to RAMs and diffraction and will add 3rd gen (plasma) with the upcoming F4 upgrade.
      With such kind of stealth, you carry larger payload… and radars are useless against it… With 2nd gen stealth, Rafale can overfly a S-300, with 3rd gen, it will be able to overfly a Nebo-M!
      The issue is IRST, although the IR signature is very low…
      When it comes to the “classic” 1st gen stealth used by USA or China, the radars in the lower half of S-band “see” them as well as L-band, VHF, UHF, thus the Chinese pretend they can counter L-band. An OTHR like the Nostradamus “sees” a B-2 with 5km accuracy from 3000km…

  4. Is this a ruse by current govt to save bankrupt Anil Ambani? No govt contract can be given to bankrupt fraud company, here bjp govt is breaking all norms to look after ambanis.

    • Dassault is seeking to fully buy Reliance’s shares in DRAL.
      C’mon, in India, you can’t sell a pebble without baksheesh! Contracts don’t go smooth with Dassault ‘coz they don’t want to be sued in France like DCNS for the sale of Taiwan’s stealth frigates in 1992 as France has passed hardcore anti abroad corruption laws in the wake of this affair, so Dassault is not into paying middlemen! Guess why things go so easy for Boeing or BAe!!! D’you think that other actors in the industry are not corrupt?

  5. Irrespective of orders from India France must start Rafale production in India immediately. Someday or the other IAF or Navy will surely buy it. Our Jaguars, Mirage 2000s are old. Mig 21 is obsolete. Mig 29s are not so good. In 20 years we have made only 18 Tejas. Therefore we need fighter jets urgently. Only Su 30mki and few Rafales can not defend such a large country. Besides, if we buy even 36 more Rafales it will bag more orders worldwide.

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