India has no Plan B if negotiations with French aerospace major Dassault Aviation to buy Rafale fighter jets collapse.
Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said the air force needed to induct medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) soon to make up for the drawdown in its fighter fleet.
India had selected Rafale fighters over Typhoons in January 2012 after Dassault Aviation emerged as the lowest bidder for the MMRCA project.
Over three years after India selected the Rafale fighters, the fate of the $25 billion deal remains unclear.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had on Wednesday refused to comment on the status of the deal until he received a report from the government’s contract negotiation committee. The French firm has been reluctant to guarantee the 108 Rafale fighters to be built at HAL.
The IAF is concerned about the delay because if India were to sign the Rafale deal today, the air force will induct the last of the 126 fighters only by 2026.
Raha ruled out the possibility of buying more Sukhoi-30 fighters if talks with Rafale collapsed. He said the Su-30 and the MMRCA complemented each other but could not replace each other.
“We are not working on Plan B. We only have Plan A,” Raha told reporters at the Aero India show.