Dassault Aviation and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will be ‘joint prime contractors’ to manufacture 118 Rafale fighters in India clearing the way as to who will assume responsibility for timely delivery and quality of the aircraft.
Negotiations between Indian MoD and Dassault have been deadlocked over the past three years over various issues, many of which have been cleared but assuming responsibility for the aircraft made in India was considered the major stumbling block.
The decision on naming both companies’ as ‘joint prime contractors’ was described by Dassault chief executive Eric Trappier as a ‘new development’ implying that it may have been arrived at during the last few days or weeks.
If this is correct, then the last big hurdle to clear the US$20billion deal is on its way to be ironed out. Dassault as well as the Indian MoD are keen to decide on the deal before the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France in April where contract is likely to be signed.
Trappier, who had accompanied French President François Hollande on a visit to Dassault’s factory in Bordeaux today was quoted as saying in French media reports that he expects a second Rafale contract this year in addition to the one signed with Egypt.
“India existed before the Egyptian contract, so we must continue talks with India, and we know they will be long. We must also talk to other countries that have shown interest in the Rafale since the Egyptian contract, and we must neglect no lead,” Hollande said in a speech to Dassault employees as quoted in the French media.