Dassault chief speaks on Rafale sale to India, contradicts Parrikar on several aspects - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 12 June 2015

Dassault chief speaks on Rafale sale to India, contradicts Parrikar on several aspects

 By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 12th June 15

After several contradictory statements from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar about India’s proposed purchase of 36 fully built Rafale fighters, there are now clarifications from Eric Trappier, chief executive of Dassault Aviation, the French company that builds the Rafale.

In an interview to the respected trade journal, Defense News, Trappier said the Indian Air Force (IAF) could buy more than just 36 Rafales, a question that Parrikar has vacillated on. The defence minister has stated that India would buy just 36 Rafales instead of the originally planned 126; and the money saved would be spent on Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA).

Trappier made it clear it would take at least three years to deliver 36 Rafales to the IAF, given that Egypt and Qatar are ahead of India in the line to receive the fighter. Parrikar had stated on April 11 in Goa that the IAF would be delivered its fighters within two years.

Dassault’s production rates make even three years seem an over-ambitious delivery target. Trappier says the current production of 11 Rafales per year for the Armee de l’Air (French Air Force) would be entirely diverted for export to Egypt and Qatar. Deliveries to the Armee de l’Air are suspended till at least 2020.

For supplying India, Dassault would have to step up Rafale production rates, said Trappier. Defense News did not ask how quickly production could be enhanced. Delivering 36 Rafales to India within three years would require Dassault to more than double its current production with immediate effect.

Industry analysts point out that fighter assembly lines require at least 18 months lead time for stepping up output. That leaves serious unanswered questions over Trappier’s projection of supplying 36 Rafales to India in three years.

The Dassault chief correctly points out that building in France would be quicker than negotiating a deal with New Delhi and establishing licensed production in India.

A pre-requisite for this would be the signature of a contract for 36 Rafales, which Trappier expects by end-2015. “The decision to go to a sale on a government-to-government basis will help speed things up”, he says.

Rafale deliveries would be additionally complicated if any other countries decide to buy the fighter. Trappier, well known as an optimist, claims “There is interest in the Middle East, Asia, even North and South America. I am not saying the US is going to buy the Rafale, but if it wants to, it can.”

Trappier also hints that Canada might decide against Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II and opt instead for the Rafale. He indicates Belgium might also opt for the Rafale, as also the UAE. “[Dassault and UAE have] never stopped talking about the Rafale for the last 10 years… It's a prospective client”, claims Trappier.

On the crucial question of cost, Trappier claimed that in a tender in South Korea, “the Rafale cost less than the F-15”, a US-built fighter that Dassault was competing against. It has been estimated that the bid for the F-15 would likely have been in the region of $80 million apiece.

Eric Trappier is the chairman and chief executive of Dassault, a company that supports 11,600 French jobs and reported revenue last year of Euro 3.68 billion.


Diverging statements on India's Rafale buy

How many Rafales will the IAF buy?


“[The number] is under negotiation. The Indian Air Force needs many more than 36 planes. There is an immediate need for 36… They have an urgent operational requirement which does not allow time needed to set up the license [for production in India], so they asked for 36 quickly.”


On April 13 to Doordarshan: “It may be worked out that we will buy another 90 Rafales… The ‘Make in India’ part will be decided only after government-to-government talks”.

Later in the same interview: “We must remember that Rafale is a top-end, multi-role fighter… but it is quite expensive. When you talk of 126 aircraft, it becomes a purchase of about Rs 90,000 crore”.

At Aaj Tak Conclave on May 21: “By buying 36 Rafale fighters at a price less than the earlier tender for 126 aircraft, I have saved the cost of 90 Rafales. We will use that money to buy Tejas LCAs”.

How long for delivery?


“[The] production time — three years. That is quicker than building under license and completing the negotiations. The problem is not the three years. Buying 36 built in France will be faster than setting up complex production under license…”

“I hope [the 36-Rafale contract with] India will be signed by the end of the year. The decision to go to a sale on a government-to-government basis will help speed things up.”


On April 11 in Goa: Rafales will be delivered to the IAF within two years.

Joint statement after Modi-Hollande meeting on April 10

The delivery of 36 Rafales “would be in [a] time-frame that would be compatib le with the operational requirement of the IAF”.

Production schedule


“Today we are [building one Rafale] per month and we will stay at 11 [per year] for the next two or three years as the contracts signed with Egypt and Qatar can stand as substitutes for the French services. The big change comes when the third contract is signed, assuming the contract will be significant. For example, if we win the 36 for India, I will need to increase production. That depends on the Indian contract being signed.

“There will be zero delivery for the French [Air Force] from next year. There will effectively be a suspension — not a cancellation — with deliveries back again from 2020 after four years.”

How much will the Rafale cost?


“I remember in [South] Korea the Rafale cost less than the F-15…  The euro has fallen against the dollar, so the price of French planes has fallen against American planes… Today there is a mobilization of the French defense and foreign ministries, perhaps there was less in the past. There is a president's commitment toward export that goes back years, and the result is there. It's France that wins.”

Joint statement after Modi-Hollande meeting on April 10

Modi and Hollande “agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft on terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway…”


On May 26, to India Today TV: Rafale will cost less than what Dassault had quoted in its commercial bid in the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender. Dassault would also offer offsets worth 50 per cent of the contract cost.


  1. F-15 for $80 Billion? Is the CEO mad or what? The cost of the F-15K is a matter of public record. The entire USAF F-22A program including development, testing and procurement of 180+ F-22's was less than $80 Billion. I guess the dollar part is the error there.

  2. Wow Colonel !!

    Whatever Eric Trappier says is the golden truth, whatever RM Parrikar says is opinion and dubious by default.

    Why are you so desperate to give your opinion on Rafale deal (and the secret behind it??) when negotiations are still ongoing? A bit unusual !!! You earlier used to wait to get your hands on all facts and then come up with your opinion. For last few months, you have been jumping the gun. Any reasons for that? Not getting enough attention??

  3. So bloody what. What's your point Shukla.

    Why don't you declare your real interest. Your creating a ruckus because you have financial/other interest with another vendor/s. You are a disgrace.


    (You won't publish this!)

  4. @ Anonymous 04:59

    Thanks for the correction. It was obviously $80 million, not $80 billion. Have corrected.

  5. @ Anonymous 13:19

    What's my point? My point is to put on public record the divergence between what the Indian side and the French side are saying about an important contract involving the expenditure of public money.

    Too hard for you to understand?

    (Don't worry that your comment might not be posted, I always post such comments. We are identified as much by our detractors as by those who praise us. I love detractors like you, who discredit your entire ilk)

  6. Your fall is complete.

    1. Nowhere he said that Indian govt will buy more Rafales. He just speculated.

    2. He said that production depends upon the Indian contract and other contracts signed. Agin you deduced by yourself and declared.

    It is clear that you are trying to create a controversy where there is non.

  7. Ditch the Rafale who needs the rafales just hype and arrogance and arrogance by the french build few extra nukes meanwhile but make in India

  8. There is actually nothing significantly different in what both are saying when you speak after understanding the perspectives. The CEO is obviously speaking like a businessman who is optimistic for a full sale. The RM on the other hand has spoken like a true politician who has kept his cards close to his chest and is obviously waiting for some options to come to complete fruition before he takes a final call. As the buyer the RM obviously has the upper hand as he does not have to corroborate what the seller wants.

  9. Eric Trappier should change his name to "Eric De La Bait n Switcher" ! He is an utter nuisance and is the sole reason that Dassault will lose a large contract with India. Only camel riders will buy equipment from these scum bags. They are even worse than the Ruskies !

  10. parrikar... nothing new... dishing out... last 10 years... fares... new... say... one more... 45k iac... vikrant... till vishal...

  11. There are these divergences because nothing goes by the plan in the Indian context. The composition of jets IAF will have in 2025 will be known only in 2025. Parrikar's statements should be seen in the political context as well since RM is a political post. He inherited the MMRCA stalemate from which there is no easy way out. While it is clear to him that we cant afford the Rafale he cannot walk away it as well. If he were to ditch the French and go for another jet (Gripen) that lost the famed mother-of-all f***ups, the political opposition would lurch him. Then there is the diplomatic fallout. It is to prevent this that the 36 Rafales are being bought. At the same time he has cleverly thrown the ball in LCA's court knowing well that if wont make it in time either.
    What is likely to happen in a year or two is that RM would make another statement highlighting IAF's dire need for more jets and LCA's continued unavailability to push another stop gap in the form of Gripen.
    Dassault's chief may be optimistic about selling sell us a thousand jets(hay! that's his job) but that dose not mean the GOI wants that. In fact if Dassault fails to agree to a timeline to meet IAF's immediate requirement the RM will be all too pleased to ditch the Rafale all together and go for 126 Gripen.
    Either way we will know what jets we will have when we have them.

  12. Dear Editor,

    Is there any news on LCA Mark 2 and a possible collaboration with SAAB on the Mk 2s development ?

    Any news on whether the new engines on the Mk2 will have any changes in Combat Radius and Payload ? if so what ?

    Can we please, please have an article regarding developments in F-INSAS, Combat rotor wing aviation and Armor ? Theses three areas are seeing more combat and operational deployments than LCA, Sukhoi-MKI,Air craft carriers and all these other fancy big ticket items put together.

    What is going on with our Battle Field Management system, Comms gear, ballistics protection for the boots on ground, Assault Rifles, Heliborne weapons NAG, HELINA, armor weapons NAMICA, what of the recent report on malfunctions in the Arjuns electronics equipment and the like. Our ability to fight in the night or expedition or the enemys capability to do the same.

    Braodsword was not just about the developing a Military Industrial Complex and defence deals and some Make In India initiatives where its readers squabble about money and acquisitions like women in a garment shop.

    Broadsword has also been about the 'sword', the armed forces by itself and not its acquisitions. Latest Combat excersizes, military strategy, threats, new capabilities discussion on previous operations. Detailed blogs on enemy capabilities, enemy threats, enemy weaknesses, their mobilizations, their acquisitions and inductions, operations.

    I request you to bring back (if only temporarily) the sword back in broadsword. The military is not ISRO or India Inc, here it must be all about the fight !

    for a while, lets focus NOT on how to improve India's security but on how India can ruin the security of others ;- ]


  13. "...contradicts..."

    I fail to see any anomaly there. The entire issue is consistent with the reality of Hon. Defence Minister contradicting himself on numerous occasions regarding OROP.

    Why would getting contradicted by someone else make the matter blogpost-worthy?


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