Differences over price, technical specifications and offsets are threatening to derail or substantially delay negotiations to purchase 36 Dassault Rafale aircraft by India.
While India is going by the price arrived at during the previous negotiations to purchase 126 aircraft, Dassault is reportedly asking for a new price since this a completely new negotiation. Reuters reported today quoting unknown Indian defence sector sources that the two parties disagree on the unit price.
India is insisting on a price below US$ 200 million price per aircraft, a figure under the previous negotiations to purchase 126 aircraft since there is no transfer of technology. The French side is reportedly insisting on the ‘frozen price’ since the aircraft to be delivered to India should be of the same configuration as agreed to under the previous negotiations.
While there was a provision for offsets of 50% of the value of the contract under the previous contract, the French want the offsets to be capped at 30% and sufficient time be given to implement them which would eventually increase the cost of contract.
A French news website, Usinenouvelle reported that the Indian Air Force (IAF) wants the Rafale aircraft to be equipped with the latest weapons, while under the Indo-French agreement for the new contract, the configuration should be the same as under the previous contract negotiations.
According to a French source close to the discussions quoted by Usinenouvelle, “differences of priorities in India are delaying the process, the air force focusing on arms and the Ministry of Defence on offsets.”
From the beginning, the IAF wants more weapons than they have already selected, while the Indian government requires" offsets, summarizes the website.
There have been no official comments from the Indian MoD or the French government.
India may opt for off-the-shelf purchase of three squadrons of the Russian T-50 fifth generation stealth fighters, instead of taking the earlier Joint R & D route to manufacture 127 fighters in India. Just as the Indian MoD abandoned discussions for licence-manufacture of the Rafale in India and went in for direct procurement of three squadrons, it may do the same in case of the T-50 for speedier procurement
In the recently concluded international air combat exercises featuring the Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighters and British Royal Air Force Typhoon jets, the Su-30MKI outsmarted the Eurofighter Typhoon 12-0 in the Within Visual Range (WVR) dogfighting operations. If the Su-30MKI has a tactical advantage over the Typhoon, the same advantage should extend over the Rafale as well, both of which are more expensive than the Russian origin aircraft
A draft agreement to purchase 36 Dassault Rafale aircraft will be prepared by the Indian team after concluding negotiation with their French counterparts. Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar told parliament that team has commenced negotiations but did not specify how long the negotiations would go on
Negotiations between India and France on the purchase of 36 Dassault Rafale aircraft could drag on till this year end due to differences over price among other issues. France wants the Rafale fighters for India to be priced at the same level as what has been contracted with Egypt and Qatar, French media reported earlier this week
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to sign the Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft contract with India on August 31. French publication Tribune reported today that Le Drain would be visiting Malaysia on August 30 probably to get Kuala Lumpur to purchase the two Mistral warships which were recently taken over by France after paying compensation to Russia
US has offered to help India manufacture fighter jets and aircraft carrier. "I see no reason why the US and India can't produce fighter aircraft together, US ambassador to India, Richard Verma said at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi Friday
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