Commencement of deliveries of Dassault Rafale to Indian Air Force (IAF) might come as a much-needed boost in the capabilities of the IAF and may prove to be effective in winning a skirmish against our adversaries but they may not be enough to deter a full-scale conflict in the region as Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria called in the Government to fast track procurement of 114 jets under Make in India, while IAF is now focusing on inducting 83 Tejas Mk1A and 200 Tejas Mk2 jets in next 10-15 years.

Dassault Aviation and the French Government already have offered Modi Government more, 36 Dassault Rafale at the same price but with more Indian specific enhancement, for which deliveries can begin from 2024 onwards. IAF has been making a case to procure additional Dassault Rafale, rather than go for another fighter type which already has been crowded due to multiple vendors offering multiple jets to IAF.

RFP and Second round of Technical Trials could mean another 3 years are wasted before negotiation can begin for 114 jets and another further 3-4 years before a local production line is established to produce the first batch of jets said a senior ranked IAF officer to another Industrial observer has informed that IAF is trying to negotiate a deal with the government, which will clear orders for more Rafale jets with 18-36 jets which will be manufactured in France and the rest in India with complete ToT.

The industrial observer has informed that, Modi Government might be planning to let Major Aerospace companies in the country take a stake in the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL) which has a 51% majority share with Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure Ltd and 49% with Dassault Aviation and later use same facilities to manufacture Rafale in India. HAL and Mahindra Aerospace are some of the companies which might be co-partner in the DRAL along with Dassault Aviation, but a smaller consortium of companies might also part of the deal.

Recently, Modi Government has removed the mandatory” Offset clause ” which in effect will reduce the cost of procurement of any weapon system and a deal might be announced by 2022 if IAF and the government can all agree with other stakeholders like HAL and Dassault Aviation in ToT and other contagious issues. Government to Government deal is what many defense experts like Ranesh Rajan have predicted now for the procurement of 114 jets which may include 20 jets for the Navy.

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