India-France negotiations on navy Rafales to start this week | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

India-France negotiations on navy Rafales to start this week

May 29, 2024 02:55 AM IST

The deal for the twin-engine deck-based fighters, built for sustained combat operations at sea, is estimated to be worth around ₹50,000 crore.

India is set to begin commercial negotiations with France this week for buying 26 Rafale Marine aircraft for the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, officials aware of the matter said on Tuesday.

The deal is estimated to be worth around <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>50,000 crore.
The deal is estimated to be worth around 50,000 crore.

The deal for the twin-engine deck-based fighters, built for sustained combat operations at sea, is estimated to be worth around 50,000 crore.

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The talks between the two sides are expected to begin on May 30 after a French delegation arrives in the country, the officials said, asking not to be named.

In July 2023, India’s defence acquisition council (DAC), headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh, approved the Indian Navy’s proposal to buy 26 Rafale M fighters to sharpen its operational capabilities. France responded to the Indian tender last December.

The Rafale procurement will include weapons, simulator, spares, associated ancillary equipment, crew training and logistics support for the Indian Navy from the French government.

The price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French government after factoring in all relevant aspects, including the comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries.

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“Integration of Indian designed equipment and establishment of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) hubs for various systems will be incorporated into the contract documents after due negotiations,” the defence ministry earlier said.

The Rafale M is being imported as an interim measure to meet the navy’s requirements until India develops its own twin-engine deck-based fighter (TEDBF). The first prototype of TEDBF could make its maiden flight by 2026 and be ready for production by 2031.

The Rafale M is a sturdy aircraft and comes with a raft of design features that significantly enhance its survivability in aircraft carrier operations that are demanding and expose deck-based assets to a highly corrosive environment.

It edged out the American F/A-18 Super Hornet in a direct competition to equip the navy with new deck-based fighters. The aircraft has been specifically designed to operate from 40,000-tonne class aircraft carriers. It is deployed on the French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier.

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The Rafale M has an exceptionally strong airframe and undercarriage for aircraft carrier operations. It is made of advanced composite materials and corrosion resistant alloys and its components offer highest protection against rust; the aircraft performance isn’t compromised in severe tropical environments, as previously reported.

The fighter jets on board INS Vikrant, built at a cost of 20,000 crore at Cochin Shipyard, use the ski-jump to takeoff and are recovered by arrestor wires or what is known as STOBAR (short takeoff but arrested recovery) that induces massive stress on the aircraft.

The Indian Air Force operates 36 Rafale jets bought from France at a cost of 59,000 crore, and the aircraft’s naval variant will bring commonality with the IAF’s fighters, creating advantages in training, maintenance and logistics support.

India is also looking at building three more Scorpene-class submarines in the country with technology from France to boost the navy’s undersea capabilities at a time when a critical Make in India project for advanced submarines is making slow progress and the country is struggling to achieve modernisation goals set 25 years ago.

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