Under the leadership of President Emmanuel Macron, France has pitched for starting the negotiation with India over the procurement of another 36 Rafale fighters. The French president described this as a key aspect of the bilateral defense cooperation between both countries.
According to the sources, the French Government had communicated with the Indian counterpart and pitched for the negotiation over the Rafale fighter jets. The news agency, Press Trust of India said in a report the French Government has indicated that they are interested in the procurement of another 36 Rafael fighter Jets by the Indian Air Force.
According to one top official, the French Defence Minister Florence Parly and Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman had been discussing the procurement of another batch of 36 fighter jets by the Indian Air Force. According to the report by The Press Trust of India, the French Defence Minister said in the meeting that the current deal will be extended and it will help both countries and boost the Defence cooperation. However, the Indian side has not made any official announcement regarding the issue.
According to one official, Florence Parly and Nirmala Sitharaman will discuss the deal for the procurement of 36 Rafael fighter jets by India. He said that in the meeting, the issue of procurement of fighter jets and submarines for Indian Navy will also be discussed. Another official said that Florence Parly will visit Nagpur on 27 October and the foundation stone for a new faculty set up by Reliance Defence and Dassault as a part of Rafael deal will be laid by her.
India and France had made a deal of more than 7 billion euros in September last year for the delivery of 36 Rafael fighter jets for the Indian Air Force. These jets are scheduled to be delivered from 2019 to 2022. According to the deal, Dassault and its partners in India will execute the 50% offset clause which will lead up to Thirty thousand crores. A joint venture was soon announced by the Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation which was named as Dassault Reliance Aerospace and it will execute the major part of the offsets.
The two sides have also been trying to co-develop and remake India’s indigenous Jet Fighter Engine, Kaveri which was to be developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). DRDO was unable to achieve the set objectives for the Fighter Jet. The Kaveri engine was being designed to power indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas which have been relying on United States’s General Electric GE-404 engines. According to a joint statement by both parties, it said that the leaders discussed the SAFRAN and DRDO and they have been encouraging some early measures and positive approach for an early conclusion.
The procurement of the Rafael fighter Jets by the Indian Government for the Indian Air Force has been one of the most controversial defence deals since Independence. In a statement by Congress, India has lost more than twelve thousand crores on the Rafael deal as the Central Government has to pay three hundred crores more for each fighter Jet. These claims have been made on the basis of the payment by Egypt and Qatar whoa are purchasing Jets from Dassault at a lower price. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that these claims had no basis and Rafael deal should not be compared with Bofors scam.