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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to France on July 17, where he will be the guest of honour at the Bastille Day parade, is expected to witness a significant announcement. A multi-billion dollar deal will likely be unveiled to procure 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets for the Indian Navy.

While the exact price of the deal is yet to be revealed, sources indicate that these multi-role carrier-borne fighters will be more cost-effective compared to the ones acquired by the Indian Air Force earlier. The procurement will be conducted through a government-to-government deal, bypassing the open tender process.

The Indian Navy has been actively seeking a suitable replacement for its ageing MiG 29Ks to be deployed on the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. Sources confirm that the search concluded with the selection of Dassault’s Rafale Marine, which shares over 80% of its features with the Indian Air Force’s Rafales.

The commonality between the two fleets will result in significant savings in terms of training, repairs, and maintenance, which played a key role in the Navy’s preference for the French fighter.

In addition to fleet commonality, the Indian Navy’s decision was influenced by the impressive capabilities demonstrated by the Rafale-M during a joint exercise and operational demonstration test conducted in India. Following these assessments, the Navy informed the Ministry of Defence that the Rafale-M best suited its requirements.

While India has long-term plans to develop indigenous deck-based fighters in collaboration with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), these endeavors will take several years before deployment. Therefore, the Navy has opted for an outright purchase to meet its immediate needs.

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