Dassault Aviation CEO, Eric Trappier said Tuesday that the company is still in discussions with India over a possible purchase of additional twin-engine Rafale fighter jets.
“A separate tender by India for a single-engine fighter jet was independent of the Rafale order and would not impact negotiations,” Eric Trappier was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“These are different projects,” Trappier said on the sidelines of a defence forum in the southern French city of Toulon. “We're talking about additional jets. Nothing is decided, but we're not going to stop at 36.”
Late last month, Indian MoD sources were quoted as saying to Times of India news daily that the IAF has made “some presentations” on the operational need to procure 36 additional Rafales, with the force contending the French fighters would prove to be much cheaper than the proposed FGFA to be developed with Russia.
The report said that the IAF has started to pitch for acquiring another 36 Rafale fighters after it gets the first 36 jets under the 7.87 billion euro contract signed with France last September. The additional jets will cost just over 60% of the original acquisition price.
“But no final decision as yet has been taken on either the 36 more Rafales or the FGFA project,” the report quoted an unnamed MoD source as saying.
The 36 jets, which can also deliver nuclear weapons, are slated for delivery from November 2019 to mid-2022. IAF has told MoD that the infrastructure coming up at the proposed Rafale bases at Hasimara and Ambala can accommodate two Rafale squadrons each.
“This will cut down the induction costs of the 36 additional fighters,” said the source.
However, an earlier report in the Hindustan Times said that defence ministry panel to examine different aspects of the FGFA project has said that India should co-develop and co-produce the stealth fighter with Russia.
The committee, headed by Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman (retd), has strongly recommended India should go ahead with it, the newspaper said quoting IAF sources said.