India may not buy Rafale: French official - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 17 March 2016

India may not buy Rafale: French official

French official taunts: “Build F-16s in India and supply it to Pakistan”

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 17th Mar 16

Paris is beginning to acknowledge the possibility that India might not buy the Rafale fighter because of sharp differences over the price, and New Delhi’s insistence on enforceable guarantees regarding the fighter’s delivery, performance and availability.

A senior French official with a close view of the on-going negotiations between New Delhi and Paris for 36 Rafale fighters told Business Standard: “If some people in the MoD do not want to allow the Rafale deal to go through, so be it. We are currently building it for Egypt and Qatar, and we could have another customer in Malaysia.”

Underlining the irritation at repeated US offers to set up an assembly line in India to build the American F-16 Super Viper, the French official taunted: “If you don’t want the Rafale, go ahead and build the F-16 here. You can build it in India and supply it to Pakistan also.”

He was referring to Washington’s announcement last month of the sale to Pakistan of eight advanced Block 50/52 F-16 fighters for $699 million. Simultaneously, a senior Lockheed Martin official had publicly offered to “move our [F-16] production line from the US to India.”

Reminded that France too was supplying submarines to both India and Pakistan (DCNS is building six Scorpenes submarines with Mazagon Dock, after earlier selling Pakistan three advanced Agosta-90B submarines with air independent propulsion), he retorted, “That is different. Pakistan is getting a different submarine from what we are providing to India.”

The official dismissed the notion that an Indian order was critical for Dassault to break even in the Rafale project, in which tens of billion Euros have been spent on developing the fighter and establishing a production line. The official claimed, “The Rafale project is commercially viable based on the numbers that the French military requires, even if there is not a single export order.”

In fact, defence budget cuts have forced the French military to slash Rafale orders from over 300 originally planned to just 180 ordered so far. That is a small order, given that the Eurofighter Typhoon has over 700 aircraft on order; while more than 4,500 F-16s have been built over the years.

On New Delhi’s demands for sovereign guarantees from the French government, or a bank guarantee from Dassault, to cover the possibility of delivery or performance shortfalls in the Rafale, the official declared that the two countries would soon sign an inter-governmental agreement (IGA), which would function as a sovereign guarantee.

“The government of France is standing behind the sale. Surely India is not asking for a bank guarantee when it has the word of the French government?” asked the official.

When it was pointed out that the IGA would only outline a supply agreement in broad terms, without detailed binding clauses and penalties, the official responded that the IGA was a strategic agreement between Paris and New Delhi, and that “a phrase here or a sentence there would make no difference.”

“In 1917, when the United States abandoned its isolationism and sent a division of troops to France to fight in World War I, it was not because there was some document with a clause that required them to fight. It was because of a common strategic aim. New Delhi and Paris must have a common strategic aim on the Rafale.”

French officials argue that, if Dassault is required to provide a bank guarantee against possible shortfalls in delivery and performance, India should cover that cost, which is normally 3-4 per cent of the guarantee amount.

Meanwhile, the Cost Negotiation Committee on the Rafale has made little headway in bridging the gap between the French demand and Indian counter-offer, which are believed to be around Euro 12 billion and Euro 9 billion respectively. Issues of liability are further complicating the likelihood of a deal soon.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while visiting Paris last April, had requested for 36 Rafales, after a breakdown in negotiations for a much larger order for 126 Rafales. The Indian Air Force had chosen the Rafale on January 31, 2012, after an exhaustive evaluation of six fighter aircraft.


  1. Who is this mysterious French official ? No name...
    Shukla is the least credible Indian blogger (not journalist).

  2. Another flamebait article.. Kindly do enlighten us which French official said that.. Trapper recently talked about 36 and 90 in MII openly discussing results.. and here you have CO tinued painting such a distorted picture..

    Grow up.. The country does nt need your lies

  3. This is an absolute mess. Once again Indian Babudom shows how not to negotiate a deal. With these ridiculous prices, its time this white elephant was dropped .

  4. $13.5B / 36 planes = $375 million / plane. That is more than twice the cost of an F-22. Why?
    1 F-22 = $150M (2009 cost). See wikipedia

    Inferior plane at 2.5 times the cost? Why?

  5. We made 5 companies work for almost a decade, then we say no money. Obviously we are made fun off.

    It is indeed strange no one in GoI realised the true bill .

  6. Paris and Delhi have no strategic aim. French are cozying up to the Sunni
    Gulf states and sells advanced weapons to Pakistan. It has sold weapons to
    China and supports removal of arms embargo against China.
    There can be no brotherhood between a drug dealer and the addict.

  7. This guy has shown how arrogant he is, so its not surprising that this deal is stuck for so long

  8. If we have retired so many squadrons of obsolete fighters, we must be savings tons of money .
    This could be used to shore up operational readiness of existing aircraft over short term or used to capex of new planes ?
    The challenge then is to keep our fighter pilots trained, unless we are using the existing planes much above planned hours of flight.
    Catch 22 .
    We now have a fleet of Su-30, MiG-29, Mirages, Jaguars. Then we add 120+ LCA.
    So variety should begin to reduce to 3 over a decade : Su-30, LCA and MMRCA.
    Do French want to be a party or someone else fills the gap ?

  9. The French Official knows that PM Modi discussed more that F-16 production line with the Lockheed Martin CEO during the week of 7th March. It may just be a coincidence that another publication is reporting on a proposed price drop for F-35 to $85 mil by 2019. However, to achieve that price point, Lockheed Martin will need to significantly crank up the demand curve and substantially bend the cost curve. There is only one country in the entire world who can help Lockheed Martin achieve that! In terms of foresight, US companies are far ahead of the stodgy French. The only joker in the pack is the US government.

  10. Is this sponsored article? So much for unnamed officials sources.

  11. A nice attempt by Ajai to incite the said "unnamed officials" into a flamebait. I know this blog stoops low from time to time for the sake of generating some comments & internet traffic, but this is a new low.

    Wah, Shukla ji, Wah. You manage to keep surpassing yourself in making bigotry the talk of the town.

    But honestly, tell us. How much is other party paying you? 30 lakhs?

  12. Drop rafale and go for F35.Why pay more and buy an inferior plane.

  13. I liked the article and how the government is being pressurized to buy prohibitiwvely expensive aircraft.which is so expensive to buy , equally expensive to maintain and prohibitively expensive to upgrade.the whole order of 126 planes was to cost 10 billion then it became 12 and then quietly became 20 plus billion . Now 36 planes are costing 12 billion and no transfer of technology. I strongly believe that LCA work is progressing slowly and needs to be speeded up with tejas mk1 A must have GE 414 IN 5 S 6 engines so the more fuel can be carried in the plane so the range and fly away time can be increased. There is not much of difference in GE 404 and 414 engines in dimensions only air intakes have to be increased and use the improvements in weight reduction and aerodynamics so that divert less supersonic intakes can be used to better the performance and multitrack pylons be desiegned so that tejas becomes a very lethal bird with AESA radar , BVR missiles and precision bombs on multitrack pylons and refueling probe can be making this plane a beast. The need of the hour is complete the prototype of Mk1 A as on as possible and try to generate a supply line for uninterrupted supply of hardware via private vendors triple the assembly line ask the staff to work in three shifts of 6-7 hours and assign a job each day to be completed by the shift tech. They have to increase the wattage of AESA radar and add new features and then you don't have to waste the time in useless negotiations of these prohibit avidly expensive planes likes Rafale which costs a lot more than F35 which by 2018 would be mature and cost about half that of F 35 and is whole one generation ahead and use the silent mode radar of f 35 with 5-6 tejas accompanying it can tremendous force multiplier if it has support of multiple A2A missiles and multiple precision guided bombs and missiles.


  14. Meantime reliable sources in MOD say that the F35 has become a strong contender for the MRCA deal now that washington has reportedly agreed to an entire assembly line in India under the make initiative

  15. We can trust MP to take the right decision. The Rafale is history period. Welcome LCA and future INDIAN designed aircraft that is what we want. The money saved from Rafale can be very well spent in making the next Indian MMRCA.

  16. Hi trolls.

    Nice to know that you spend so much of your time visiting, reading and posting comments on "the least credible blog", flame bait, paid-for articles, etc. It says a lot about you.

    As for the question on how much I'm being paid to scuttle the Rafale buy, can you clarify that figure of Rs 30 lakhs please? Is it just Rs 30 lakhs total, or that amount from each of the other five MMRCA contenders? In addition, I suppose I can expect at least another Rs 60 lakh from ADA and HAL, given that I have consistently advocated (since 2006), cancelling the MMRCA tender and creating an indigenous eco-system to build and upgrade the Tejas LCA.

    Please get the cheques remitted.

    Amongst the thousands of bright, well-informed people who visit this blog everyday, how do these clowns fit in?

  17. Hello Sir

    Earlier you were SELLING India F 35

    FYI ; It is NOT READY YET even for the USAF

    So now If Rafale deal happens will you shave your HEAD

  18. Hi Shukla, looks like the truth hurts eh?

  19. Do we need such an expensive Aircraft ?
    Even 9 billion is 62 k crs.
    MMRCA needs to be cancelled and we need to go for LCA in numbers (Upgraded) and Sukhoi in numbers(Higher Serviceability). Standardize our Fleet to 3 or 4 basic platforms. 36 of this in a 2 front conflict is not going to make a difference and for a 1 front conflict (Pakistan) do we really need this ?

    Can we have another blog on what 62000 Crs can get us if we did not go for Rafale ?

  20. Ignore these buggers Colonel sahab...for the $9Billion we should be able to procure 300 LCA @$30 million a piece or 200 LCA and 50 Su30 MKIs @~60 million a piece. Increases squadron numbers and helps our aerospace industry.

    The french can sell their over priced toy to the pakis or whomever else and bankrupt them.

  21. Colonel Shukla, in any Amrit-Manthan (read "meaningful dialog" here), you will get both Amrit and Vish, just ignore the vish spewing trolls. Your reporting and analysis is well received by your readers, please keep it up.

  22. Subhaan Allah ! If this news is true, then the dream of making Tejas the MRCA will finally come true !!

    The legendary French belligerence is a God sent opportunity for the Tejas to be IAF's mainstay fighter jet. The Mk1A is already equivalent in range-payload capabilities to the Gripen NG, which incidentally was an MRCA contender. So, why not the Tejas as an MRCA itself ?

    The only difference between a Rafale and a Tejas is that the former is somewhat heavier only to enable it to carry nukes. And nuclear ability was never a requirement of the MRCA or the MMRCA tender. Their conventional range-payload capabilities are similar. The Rafale NEVER does carry over 8 tons of conventional payload; it'll have to land just after taking off in that case, for all its fuel would've been expended !

    The IAF only needs Su-30 for deep strike roles (a la F-15 Strike Eagles) and the Tejas for Air Superiority (a la F-16s). There is simply no need for a so-called "Medium" jet to be wedged in between the two. Its high time the IAF's zoo of fighter types is trimmed from 8 to just 2.

    For the record, the IAF originally wanted a Mirage-2000 as its MRCA, impressed with its performance during Kargil. The Tejas already matches the Mirage-2000 (and is superior in some respects). It must be a natural choice for the MRCA.

    Sometimes opportunity lies at home. Right under our noses. But we fail to see it. The Tejas Mk1A is that opportunity.

  23. We have a shortfall of fighters and the search for the fighter dragged on for the better part of a decade now that we have a clear candidate we drag our heels in negotiations for 5 more years. Meanwhile in those 15 wasted years our rivals have copied other fighters mass produced them in numbers, bought 2nd hand fighters and increased the power of their Air Force drastically. What have we achieved in that time? Indian Air Force and MOD are the most idiotic bunch of monkeys. In this day and age where China is probably the biggest threat to us, they have developed advanced fighters and produced large numbers of them. Us? our Air Force has to be a roadblock to our indigenous projects hence we dont have any in service. Pakistan has never been a match but its been the most persistent threat. Their political and bureaucratic system quite possibly is way more corrupt than ours but still has enough brain cells to figure that numbers matter, they have mass produced Jf17's with China's help and bought F16's when ever they could. Our response- hope to buy the most expensive fighter we could with no money in our purse and bitch and moan about US selling Pakistan F16's. Say we get dragged in a war now how will our Air Force fare?

  24. To throw a spanner in the works, why not the Eurofighter Typhoon? We could get the EJ 200 as well!

  25. The defense ministry might settle for an F16 & F35 acquisition and probably localized production. At such an exorbitant price no way they would buy the Rafale.Even The Pakfa T-50 too isn't finding favour with the IAF.they don't even want the Gripen since it is in the same league as the LCA 1A.

  26. @Ajay,

    Thess Modi Bhakts dont realise that they are next:

    Look how far we have dropped:This while they have just made Holi a holiday after 70 years. From our army to civilians we are heading in the opposite direction them. They have realised the value of the minorities and are giving them pride and us pushing them out.

    A Muslim legislator has been suspended in Maharashtra for saying he prefers “Jai Hind” (victory to India) to “Bharat Mata ki jai” (victory to mother India). What the difference between these two declarations is, I am not really sure, but it is enough to merit punishment. On March 19 came a report that Urdu writers have been asked to guarantee they are not writing anti-India material. The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language under Smriti Irani is asking Urdu writers to sign forms which have the following declaration: “I ___ son/daughter of ___ confirm that my book/magazine titled ___ which has been approved for bulk purchase by NCPUL’s monetary assistance scheme does not contain anything against the policies of the government of India or the interest of the nation, does not cause disharmony of any sort between different classes of the country, and is not monetarily supported by any government or non-government institution.” This is what The Indian Express has reported.

  27. How about the Typhoon? We could ask for ToT for the EJ 200 as well!

  28. Don't see why so many folks are taking this on the author personally. Rafale discussions are in limbo for a long time now and it is clear there are big issues in the process. Just a matter of time before the shit comes out...

    High time we looked at alternatives...which is the writing on the wall. Might be the LCA, F18, F16, SU 35 or other options. Aim is to provide additional aircraft which are competent and helps India address primary threats. ..

  29. Wouldn't it be best to shift the rafales to the navy. 36 would be adequate for an aircraft carrier. Plus the unique capabilities of rafale in ew would fulfill navy"s ew needs. Plus there won't be any need for the IAF to diversify their infra. At the same time we will be able to hold on to the French as strategic partners

  30. €12 billion for 36 planes is an absurd figure. This deal should have been cancelled
    years ago, and it is incomprehensible why it has been kept alive. France has supplied
    submarines to Pakistan. Along with the USA, why buy weapons from a suspect supplier? Do we
    want to donate money to the Pakistani Army? I say enough is enough.

    Let's buy more Tejas, invest more money in the Medium Combat Aircraft and Kaveri, along with the DRDO Aura.Pull the plug Modiji.

  31. Col. Shukla. Please ignore these turds. They are paid bots and an insult even to trolls

  32. Dear Col. Shukla,

    For every single troll abusing you with anonymous comments or calling you a Congress stooge and other names, please remember that there are hundreds of followers of your blog like me who to a large extent owe their rudimentary understanding of strategic and defence affairs - from big ticket arms purchases to feudal nature of the army's officer cadre to AFSPA and Kashmir - to years of following this blog.

    To my mind, you have never shied away from calling a spade a spade even if it meant taking positions contrarian to that of majority of serving and retired officers and having to face unpleasantness from the ones who are your own.

    As you had mentioned once somewhere, you felt meaningful journalism to be a much better way of serving the country once a desk job beckoned you at the army. It indeed is. Please keep up the good work!


  33. Great stuff, Ajai Shukla. You provide a lot of key info. Thanks a ton.


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