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SOURCE:  ANAND SG / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

With the Indian Air Force (IAF) adamant that it wants either 80 more Rafale or 114 jets of different types, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is having second thoughts on placing orders for the second batch of Rafale that it originally had planned after taking deliveries of all 36 Rafale that were previously ordered, India might be thinking to go for another type due to high-cost associated with the French jet.

It has been reported that little or no headway has been made to get France to reduce the price for the proposed Made in India Rafale. The United Arab Emirates and France recently signed a $19bn arms deal that will see the Gulf state acquire 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 military helicopters.

Made in India Rafale deal for similar 80 Rafale could mean it will breach the $20-22bn mark after factoring in cost associated with Transfer of Technology and other taxes for components that will be imported. IAF is yet to issue RFP for the MRFA Tender under which it has plans to procure 114 jets with Rafale being the front runner but it is not clear yet what will be the ceiling value for the entire program that already has jumped from $10bn a decade ago to now $15bn.

While MoD is keen to look at alternatives but IAF is not too keen to add another type to the fleet due to which planned repeat order for 36 Rafale and the end of MRFA has been stuck. Americans recently sold 36 Boeing F-15EX aircraft as part of an estimated $13.9 billion deal to Indonesia which only proves that competition is also not so cheap. Until Price bids are opened it will be difficult to assume Rafale will be in driver seats for the moment but there exist high chances of Rafale meeting Mirage-2000 fate when India procured the cheaper Mig-29 instead of the additional Mirage-2000 to save cost.

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