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Defense Analyst Ranesh Rajan, in an interview with, has cast doubt on the viability of acquiring 114 Rafale fighter jets under the Make in India program within the framework of the Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) tender.

Rajan argues that the sheer cost of such a large-scale purchase, estimated at around $25 billion, could put significant strain on India’s defense budget. He suggests that prioritizing this acquisition might delay or even derail funding for crucial domestic projects like the Tejas MkII and AMCA fighter jets.

The analyst highlights the financial burden of the deal. He points out that the UAE’s purchase of 80 Rafale jets cost $18 billion, and extrapolates a cost of at least $25 billion for 114 aircraft, potentially including additional weaponry and support systems.

Rajan further expresses concerns about the “Make in India” aspect of the proposed deal. He anticipates that manufacturing Rafales in India would be 20-30% more expensive compared to France due to the need for infrastructure development, procurement of specialized tools and machinery, potentially at inflated prices from Dassault.

Rajan dismisses the possibility of Dassault relocating its entire Rafale production line to India as a way to mitigate costs. The analyst argues that Dassault has already likely recouped its initial investment in manufacturing facilities in France, making it unlikely to uproot its established production base.

Rajan’s analysis raises critical questions about the feasibility of the 114 Rafale acquisition under the MRFA tender. The Indian government will need to carefully weigh the economic implications against the strategic benefits of acquiring these advanced fighter jets. Exploring alternative options or potentially scaling down the number of Rafales acquired might be necessary to ensure the project remains financially sustainable while safeguarding India’s domestic defense development programs.

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