India has initiated a step forward to buy 26 Rafale-Marine fighter jets by issuing a request to the French government for this important deal.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, had already approved proposals to procure 26 Rafale-Marine fighter jets and three Scorpene diesel-electric submarines for the Indian Navy.
The ministry said that DAC granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of 26 Rafale-Marine fighter jets along with associated ancillary equipment, weapons, simulator, spares, documentation, crew training and logistic support for the Indian Navy from the French government through an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA).
The price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French government after taking into account all relevant aspects, including comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries, it added.
Further, integration of Indian designed equipment and establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Hub for various systems will be incorporated into the contract documents in due negotiations.
Now a detailed letter of request (LoR) has been issued by the Indian defence ministry to the French Directorate General of Armaments for the proposed deal.
It will include 22 single-seat jets and four twin-seat trainers, along with weapons, simulator, spares, crew training and logistics support, sources said.
According to the defence experts France should respond with its offer, pricing and other details in a couple of months.
Once the contract is inked after the cost negotiations and the Cabinet Committee on Security’s final nod, deliveries will begin in three years.
The LoR for the government-to-government deal, which involve off-the-shelf procurement of the Dassault Aviation-manufactured jets, comes soon after defence minister Rajnath Singh visited France on 10, October.
As per the defence experts, there is an urgent requirement for aircraft and submarines, as the Indian Navy has been facing shortages and needs to shore up its requirements keeping in mind security challenges, especially in the Indian Ocean region.
Aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant have been operating the MiG-29s and need the Rafales for operations on both carriers.
The deals are estimated to be worth thousands of crore but the final cost will only be clear only after the contract negotiations are completed, a source added.
The country is likely to seek some concession in the price and may also insist on greater focus on a ‘Make In India’ content in it, an official said.