India, France announce deal for 36 fully-built Rafale fighters - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

Home Top Ad


Friday 10 April 2015

India, France announce deal for 36 fully-built Rafale fighters

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 11th Apr 15

Setting aside the norms of New Delhi’s procurement rulebooks, India and France marked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris on Friday with an announcement that the Indian Air Force (IAF) would buy 36 Rafale fighters in fly-away condition. These will equip two IAF squadrons with 18 aircraft each.

“I have spoken to President Hollande about buying 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition”, said Mr Modi, addressing a joint press conference in Paris. He said the terms of the tender would be modified accordingly.

The announcement is silent about the plan to build the Rafale in Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), a central part of the tender. So far, this multi-billion dollar procurement, which was conceived as a springboard for the modernization of India’s aerospace industry, will only benefit that of France.

Friday’s announcement underlines the continuing failure by India and France to take to a logical conclusion the IAF’s August 2007 tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), of which 18 were to be supplied fully-built and 108 built in India by HAL. After touting its handling of the tender as an example of probity and professional skill, New Delhi has inexplicably altered the terms of the tender, switching over to a single-vendor, government-to-government negotiation.

Since 2007, the IAF has evaluated and test-flown Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper; Saab’s Gripen NG; RAC-MiG’s MiG-35; Eurofighter GmbH’s Typhoon and Dassault’s Rafale. In April 2011, the first four vendors were told their aircraft had not met IAF requirements. On January 31, 2012, Dassault was informed that its bid was the cheapest.

Since then, Dassault’s clarification of numerous grey areas in its financial bid led Indian negotiators to conclude that Dassault’s bid was significantly costlier than it had first appeared.

With Dassault now awarded an order for 36 Rafale fighters under arbitrarily altered rules, rival vendors could legitimately object, particularly Eurofighter GmbH, which can credibly argue that it would supply 36 fully built fighters cheaper than Dassault.

Dassault has only 180 Rafales on order from the French military, with Egypt expressing interest in buying another 24. By contrast, six nations have ordered 571 Typhoons, allowing Eurofighter to amortise development and infrastructure costs over thrice as many aircraft.

The government has stayed with the Rafale, though IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, clarified in Bengaluru in February that any fighter would do. "It is important we have an MMRCA. I would not say Rafale, but we need to have it [MMRCA] in the quickest possible time," Raha said.

Air Vice Marshal (Retired) Nirdosh Tyagi, who oversaw the MMRCA contest, says it is hard to justify buying only a small number of Rafales. It makes little sense to have an air force that already has seven different fighters --- Sukhoi-30MKI, MiG-29, MiG-27, MiG-21, Mirage 2000, Jaguar and Tejas LCA --- create spare part stocks, depots and maintenance infrastructure for just two squadrons of yet another fighter type.

“Thirty-six fighters are neither here nor there. The MMRCA was processed from the start as a 126-fighter contract, with an option for 63 more. Indigenous manufacture through technology transfer is crucial”, Tyagi says.

If India contracts for 36 Rafale fighters, Dassault will be in a commanding position to negotiate favourable terms for the remaining 90 fighters. If India does not agree to Dassault’s terms, it would be left with two squadrons of Rafales, with no indigenization.

Military analyst Bharat Karnad points out that India’s Rafale purchase is essential for Dassault, whose lack of orders has raised questions about its very existence. “What is India getting in return, as the French laugh their way to the bank? HAL’s production plans are in limbo; “Make in India” is uncertain; and we are buying the most expensive plane on offer. Why?” Karnad asks.

Karnad estimates that, with missiles and payload included, each Rafale would cost between $150-200 million. India, therefore, would end up paying $5.4 to $7.2 billion for 36 Rafales, about twice the cost of the indigenized Sukhoi-30MKI.

It remains unclear whether the defence ministry’s “cost negotiation committee” (CNC), which has been deadlocked in negotiations with Dassault for three years now, will continue negotiations for the remaining 90 fighters. The CNC had made it clear that Dassault would have to improve its earlier bid for supply-cum-licence manufacture. Now, the government’s decision to buy 36 fully built Rafale significantly undermines the CNC.


  1. Why don't you declare you interest and conflict re your American paymasters.

    I note you have become increasingly trenchant recently against this Govt and MOD presenting half arsed reports.

    It appears your Congress bias and American agenda is finally bubbling to the surface. All this I'm a journo nonsense is only a ruse.

    As usual you will not publish this criticism as you are averse to criticism (hangover of your army days I would say).

  2. When you go to a cinema and when you feel thirsty, you do end up paying 30-40 rupees for 10 rupees water bottle. You know it is way expensive than normal but you do buy it to quench your thirst.

    Same thing here!

    As long as we are sure that Rafale jets are going to be useful for India's defence, I guess we really shouldn't mid its purchase. Although I fail to understand what is stopping India, HAL, DRDO to make such planes.

    Where does LCA stand if it was compared with a plane like Rafale?

    Why can't we make such planes?

    Why the lethargy?

    We obviously know, can know, figure out what are shortcomings, and if so why can't we work on these shortcomings?

    I am happy to that IAF is getting strengthened but at the same time it hurts too that we are again buying off-the-shelf war machines and not making our own!

    I think HAL should join with NAL, DRDO, ISRO, TATA and other similar companies and work together to totally 'indiginize' India's war machines' productions.

  3. NSR says ---

    What kind of model is India getting?

    Latest Rafale F3R or older version?

    If it is older version, then it is not worth it for India as all the interfaces changed and all the improvements in AESA, Spectra, Meteor, etc can't be utilized to full extent.

    Can Clonel Shukla elaborate a little more if he knows about the technical aspects of the fighters that India getting.

    Thank you.

  4. Ajai
    What options did India Have??
    - All the 4 countries backing Eurofighter would move to F-35.

    - We are already heavily invested in Russian Jets

    - US jets are not an option at all for combat platforms

    - Only the French are currently Non-Aligned with US F-35 program. It looks like they will stay invested in Rafale for some time unlike EADS

    - Gripen may have lost out being sigle engined.

    - LCA Mark-2 which can qualify as MMRCA is still a decade away from FOC.

    Defence purchases are rarely done on purely qualitative factors. A lot of other Geo-political considerations matter.

    Regarding price then none of defense ware around the world is cheap. The Chinese were complaining about the exorbitant price of SU-35 quoted by Russians.

    Complicity, corruption, pay-offs, lapses in contracts, lack of spares, farcical TOT are all so common in Indian Armed forces acquisition.

    When debunking Rafale we were all so gung-ho about russians and there so called generosity for Indians.

    Just a few years back we were fleeced by the Russians on the INS Vikrmaditya by raising price by 3 times to 2.3 Billion USD.

    T-90 tanks TOT is another sordid saga.

    Serviceability of Su-30mki is in spotlight. And the 50000 Crore Su-30 Mki upgrade program, there is hardly any debate.

    I will not even talk about the Mig Family jets.

    Britishers looted us in the Westland Hellicopter deal.

    IN paid 200 Million USD for 22 Harpoon missile for P-8i.

    French made a mockery of IN in Scorpene case.The Mirage 2000 upgrade cost was exorbitant.

    Iss dhande mein koi imaandaar nahin hai.

    In terms of capabilities if Rafale is lacking or some facts brought out then its a cause of worry. But its a proven and capable platform.

    Talks about Rafale lacking a capable AESA is a concern but other than US AESA is still a evolving technology.

    LCA is and should remain our primary focus.

  5. You sound more and more biased journo... Another case of Presstitude

  6. Hello Ajai, as usual thanks very much for your very intelligent and analytical blogs. Our PM had to do away with this stupid MMRCA deal which was from the beginning itself all bungled up. Now he knows what is best for the Indian armed forces and he has opted for the US route. That is the only place on this planet which has the technology for the best planes,ships and tanks. President Obama has promised to transfer technology to build Aircraft Carriers with the EMALs and that shows what our PM was talking about. To have the most powerful navy after the US. And when we are getting the EMAL then you don't have to think too much what is coming with it.... the F-35. For sure! Now that we have a strong PM there will be better things coming our way. I believe this will be the end of the MMRCA, so much cash has been saved!

  7. I am surprised guys like you and some other bloggers think this 36 fighter deal affects the current contract.

    If it does affect that contract I would be surprised, and if it doesn't have a chilled lager in my name.

    BTW you have a few ideological fanboys of this government lurking on your forum. Though I don't agree with your message, I think it is a legitimate point of view. People will always seek a hidden agenda everywhere.

    Please keep them coming.

  8. Purchase of 36 rafales is just a stop gap measure for early induction considering retiring of mig27 by 2017. Also local production of 108 rafales will surely happen of the original 126, which will take some time by HAL/Reliance where the facility will be ready by only 2019-2020. Even previous planes such as Jaguars, Sukhoi 30, mig21, mystere were purchased directly from the OEMs before being locally produced.


    This is a Good decision to buy 36 Rafales in outright purchase.

    Actually, Its just like the Mirage 2000 procurement by IAF when we purchased 36 - 40 back in the early 80s.

    Even back then, the idea as to manufacture a large number of M2000s locally. In fact, that follow on process was the very genesis for the entire MMRCA process...since the new DPPs promulgated by UPA could not do it in a single vendor system.

    So now we have an INVERTED SITUATION. Think about it. The Rafale won the tender for 126 fighters with the majority (100+) to be locally produced. But we are shelving / renegotiating this, and instead placing a Govt to Govt. order for 36 fighters.

    What an out of the box solution! Full marks to the Modi Government leadership, the MOD, the IAF, all Indians.....both the pros and the nay sayers. Here's to democracy. The list goes on. India needs to be admired by all other countries for coming out of the messy situation of this protracted MMRCA tender.

    Just a word to the latest naysayer - Subramanium Swami. Sir, you do not know the whole situation. You are also not a tech expert, nor warfare expert. Yes, you are a valued leader of high profile & intellect no doubt.... but only in specific domains. Not strategic warfare.

    The mark of a good leader with a logical bent of mind is to NOT use your profile, to come so strongly against the Rafale, and damage national security.

    Thanks and Jai Hind.

  10. What a decision by the Government!!!

    1. Its good for India's coffers.... by virtue that this option causes least damage.

    2. Its good for virtue of this option infuses numbers & capability fast.

    3. Its good for LCA & AMCA.....due savings that can be routed towards these indigenous projects

    4. Its good for India's image......not just for political pundits, but also global investor communities, also OEMs, also for strategic military pundits....where India is perceived to continue to grow in strength, with the objective of .....being a stabiliser and net security provider in the region. Do not view this as a arms race thing. It was needed to retain our advantages which were fast eroding.

    5. Its good to hedge our bets against T-50.....due latest reports that Russia might be shelving it. We should still look to purchase T-50, BUT on our terms. Lets not be taken for a ride.

  11. Great news finally. Modi is a man of action and he found a way to break the log-jam as only he could have. I think with this 2 squadron deal hewanted to send a signal to the CNC & the MoD to wrap up its work faster. After all 3 years is unacceptable for concluding negotiations on a contract. Only happens in India!

    He also wanted to send a signal to the services that this Govt. is willing to take steps to give the forces what they need to patrol and protect our national interests.

    Finally, he wanted to send a clear signal to the global community that India means business and that the days of endless delays over contracts during the UPA regime in over.

    Let's steam forward with this new found momentum and put the dark days of the inept and corrupt UPA govt behind us.

  12. This is a good decision. IAF will have 49 modern Mirage 2000 + 36 Rafales with 5-6 years. The old planes can be retired, we have a fitter airforce.
    Next step is to make more of these machines in india. Have indian weapons like Sudharshan, Nirbhay, Astra integrated with Rafale. Sure that will happen.
    What happens to 155 mm artillery , that needs another quick fix.
    This government is moving in the right direction. It cannot however make up for the lost decade.

  13. We've been cheated and cleverly out muscled by French! Now notjjng is on our terms and the visit was more of a pressure to buy the planes and be fooled by everybody out in the world .. We've made a fool of ourselves after saying we have the best testing and bidding process only to be forced by the govt of France to buy what's given irrespective of the clauses in the contatcy, its a slap on the face and being told that no one no one is going to help build your industry at the cost of theirs..



    buying those planes at double the cost for what advantage ??

  14. NSR says ---

    PM Modi and DM Parrikar pulling off India brilliantly from acute defense industry and political apathy malaise ...
    I hope they succeed in it...

    This deal should be viewed in overall picture...
    1. Immediate delivery which helps IAF...also helps France to save its industry...
    2. French came around on Nuclear Plants...local production of pressurized reactor cores will establish Indian Nuclear industry too...L&T...
    3. $2 billion aid and smart cities...
    4. Still supporting India for UNSC seat...
    5. Support for make in India program...

    DM Parrikar recently floated idea of acquiring Russian T-50 instead of FGFA to quicken the process...Delivery 36 months from decision of acquisition...

    Considering the sorry state of HAL in absorbing and/or developing technology, I think this is the best scenario for India...

    Now what India must do is...

    Bargain hard with France for Rafale and Russia for Su-35S...Whoever offers best terms and technology should be selected...

    India must produce additional 40 to 80 Tejas I and Naval Tejas I...
    It gives India to learn the teething problems in technology development and manufacturing..

    India must get on war footing on Tejas II and AMCA projects...

    This is best solution for India to elevate HAL and other industries to supply components in a timely fashion...

    May GOD bless India and save it from troubles the world is seeing everyday...

  15. The contradictions in your blogs is mind blowing. It always appears that you have a particular agenda that you are promoting these days.

    Every action of the Govt gets criticised by you. Don't buy the aircraft- Govt doesn't care for security. Buy using the Inter Govt purchase route of DPP - Govt upheld interest of foreign vemdor.

    If I have followed the reports in other media houses correctly, details of the deal will be worked out by the bureaucrats in coming months. And this purchase is not part of the process for 126 air crafts. That deal has now been scrapped due to various aspects that could not be resolved. This procurement has a lot to do with bilateral relations that also involve nuclear deal, space cooperation etc.

  16. The main reason why our successive governments haven't encouraged an indegeous capability is because they never want to kill the golden goose. Defence deals give the govts ample opportunity to make money. Under all the hogwash of make in india, the Modi govt has also shown their true colors. The IAF doesnt mind as they get expensive toys. There is never going to be an all out war with both China and Pak as all three countries are nuclear and developing...Create fear in the minds of people.... and have your way...matra that the IAF has to adopt in this pathetic politico beaurucratic nexus.
    Why cant we Divide the 20 billion between tata and mahindras and in 10 yrs India would be making state of the art fighters. If US wouldn't have done the same, the world wouldn't have had Boeing and Lockheed. USSR wouldn't have had Sukhoi and MIG.

    Its so simple but it seems like no one is interested in indigenization. Its all talk!!!
    At least the IAF should push for greater private participation.

    Col Ajai are doing a brilliant job BTW...

  17. What has happened to the VVIP Copper AW101 that is already inducted to IAF? is it being used or mothballed?

  18. A hare brained half cooked idea thrust on the government by an incompetent IAF leadership which lacks long term vision. Every arms purchase decision in the last 10 years especially by the IAF has been an eleventh hour ridiculous decision due to their resource draining rivalry with HAL.HAL and IAF should behave like two sides of the same coin. Perhaps that is why they do not see eye to eye!! Alas India has indeed taken on the responsibility of reviving all the world's sinking defence industries.

  19. Everyone's talking now...None of the opinion matters here to the MOD. Finally an article from a unbiased source. I just hope we don't hear a MMRCA SCAM in future

  20. I don't understand what the hue and cry is all about. This was the only option open to the
    Govt (and I'm not a Modi supporter). This
    becomes obvious if you look at the following

    1. The air force is in dire need of new aircraft
    NOW. So if the Govt starts any new negotiations
    it will be at least 4-5 years before new planes
    will arrive.

    2. To anybody who is even vaguely familiar with
    India's competence in Science and Tech it is
    obvious that India has none. Lets not confuse
    software development with high tech. So
    India can't produce a Rafale even in the next
    20 years. The LCA is just an assembly of
    parts purchased from abroad - far from
    obvious that it can be used in battle.

    3. The only other possible source of air craft
    in double quick time was Russia but we all
    know the state of Russia's aricraft.

  21. The decision does not make any sense .What is Modi promoting ? Is it 'Make In India'or'Make For India' ???

  22. I want to ask these so-called "defense analysts" and "military pundits" one simple question - which is more important, IAF's depleting squadron strength and the national security of India or the domestic manufacturing and creation of HAL's "aerospace industry"?

    It is ironic that these people seem to criticize this "immediate" requirement by the Indian Government by moaning about "not here nor there" and "objections by Eurofighter" or "sabotaging the Procurement process".

    These people are apparently more concerned about the "form" than the substance of the issue - which is to DEFEND THIS COUNTRY.

    There is only "one" certainty - by 2017 the IAF WILL mothball its Mig-21s and squadron size will fall precipitously. The Government has the choice of either - playing out the dog and pony show of the MMRCA and going round in circles with DAssault till Kingdom (or the PAkisatni Air Force or the Chinese AF come) come or take an immediate measure to buttress the loss with new additions.

    The fact that you say that Eurofighter can "challenge" this is absurd - considering this deal falls OUTSIDE the ambit of the MMRCA tender and does not in any way impinge on the MMRCA process and the Government has the right to buy what ever aircraft it wants - even if they were contenders in the MMRCA program, there are no stipulations against this in the MMRCA.

  23. So "Feku" shouts "Make in India" from every rooftop, he goes ahead and buys Rafale in flyaway condition from France.

    This is the true identity of "Feku". He has managed to fool 1.2 Billion Indians

  24. your own article published few days back was so rampant about TOT and MAKE IN INDIA for Torpedoes blah blah and now because PM took an outright purchase decision u rubbished your argument to climb on the bandwagon that the decision was for national interest. You are a confused journalist who swings his way based in the wind direction. shameful.

    Have guts to stand up for at least your own belief. I am sure Mr. Modi is an intelligent man who would not mind criticism and arguments !!!

  25. NSR says ---

    Just like with USA government to government sales, like C-230J, C-17, P-8I, etc, India should ask for the exact model that French Air Force is getting...

    The latest F3.3 has the best AESA and EW capabilities...

    If people are aware of Mirage-2000 upgrade, then they would not go with F3 version at all...

    Mirage 200 upgrade costs $45 millions/plane and it does not include an engine or AESA radar...

    Very foolish of India to ask for F3 model...

    We are desperate for fighters but France economy is in shambles too...

    So get their latest version at the price they are delivering it to France government...

    Rafale F3.3 with nuclear interface will be good enough for India for a long time...

  26. You appear far too biased and sold to lobbies! 36 Rafales @ 4 Bn vis-a-vis 24 Rafales by Egypt @ 5.9 Bn and you will know that we actually have a good deal! Operational necessity and significant capability voids has actually forced this innovative decision. Trust the AF professionals to have chosen wisely. It is not an arbitrary decision, if one has been following the process followed.Yes 108 more are to be manufactured in India. Those negotiations appear progressing - now with this it will conclude fast. Indians are known to bargain hard, except where some other interests take over. As far as Russian tech is concerned, there are significant issues related to SU-30s. So let us not put all our eggs in one basket. French getting money from us? Yes, obviously they will. Remember, they were the L1, the lowest quote on tender.

  27. Mistake ?? Decide yourself.
    Comparisons ..

    1) Surprising the enemy without being surprised - F-22, far from being the least visible, is the largest of all fighters compared. Smallest is Saab’s Gripen, while Rafale, Typhoon and F-35 are halfway between them.
    RATING: 1. Rafale, 2. Typhoon, 3. F-22, 4. F-35, 5. Gripen, 6. F-16, 7. F-18, 8. F-15.

    2) Outnumbering the enemy in the air -
    RATING : 1. Gripen, 2. Rafale, 3. F-18, 4. F-16, 5. Typhoon, 6. F-15, 7. F-22, 8. F-35.

    Outmaneuvering the enemy -Roll onset rate is determined by aircraft’s responsitivity to control inputs, which includes efficiency of control surfaces as well as roll inertia.
    a) Roll onset rate at angle of attack = Rafale > Gripen > F-22 > F-35 > F-16 > Typhoon > F-18 > F-15
    b) Instantaneous turn rate = Rafale > Gripen > Typhoon > F-22 > F-15 > F-16 > F-18 > F-35
    c) pitch onset rate / pitch rate = Rafale > Gripen > F-22 > Typhoon > F-16 > F-18 > F-35 > F-15
    d) Acceleration = F-22 > Rafale > Typhoon > F-15 > F-16 > Gripen > F-18 > F-35
    e) sustained turn rate = F-22 > Typhoon > Rafale > F-15 > F-16 > Gripen > F-18 > F-35

    RATING : 1. Rafale, 2. Gripen, 3. F-22, 4. Typhoon, 5. F-16, 6. F-15, 7. F-35, 8. F-18.

    4) Outlasting the enemy- Persistence is determined by fuel fraction; fuel
    fraction for fighters is 0,33 for Rafale C, 0,31 for Typhoon, 0,28 for Gripen C, 0,29 for F-22, 0,38 for F-35A, 0,29 for F-15C, 0,27 for F-16C, and 0,31 for F-18C.

    RATING : 1. Rafale, 2. Typhoon, 3. F-22, 4. F-16C, 5. Gripen C, 6. F-15C, 7. F-35A, 8. F-18C.

    5) Achieving reliable kills - Main weapons used by fighters are BVR missiles, WVR missiles and guns.

    Guns : Rafale 5, Gripen/Typhoon 4, F-15/16/18 3, F-35 2, F-22 1.
    WVR missiles: Gripen/Typhoon 5, Rafale 4, F-15/16/18 3, F-22/35 2.
    BVR missiles : Rafale 5, others 4.

    RATING - 1. Rafale, 2. Gripen, Typhoon, 3. US teen-series fighters, 4. F-35, 5. F-22.

    ANYONE has any problem with RAFALE ?


Recent Posts

Page 1 of 10412345...104Next >>Last