New Delhi: This is going to be among the biggest deals between India and France. The $9 billion deal signed between India and France for acquiring 36 Rafale jets for the Indian Air Force has finally seen the light of the day.
After going back and forth on the issue for around a year, India on Friday finally signed the deal with France to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets, which come equipped with cutting edge long-range missiles such as ‘Meteor’ and ‘Scalp’.
The deal was signed as French Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian arrived in New Delhi on Thursday night to ink the deal, along with the CEO of Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale jets.
The deal is very important for India that is facing a shortage of dependable fighter jets to take on the changing scenario as it faces dual threat from Pakistan and China. The deal was signed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Le Drian sixteen months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s
Indian establishment is claiming that the deal comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros than the one struck during the previous UPA government, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government, besides a 50 per cent offset clause. The delivery of the combat aircraft will begin in 36 months and will be completed in 66 months from the date the contract is inked. The features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of IAF is its Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while staying within India’s territorial boundary.
It is being said that Pakistan at present has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India had used a BVR of 50 km range while Pakistan had none. However, Pakistan later acquired 80-km-range BVR, but now with ‘Meteor’ the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India’s favour. ‘Scalp’, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km also gives IAF an edge over its adversaries. Sources said the “vanilla price” of just the 36 aircraft is about 3.42 billion Euros. The armaments cost about 710 million Euros while Indian specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet-mounted displays, will cost 1,700 million Euros. The rest of the cost includes spare parts and maintenance.