The Indian government is planning to ink its long-in-the-making purchase of 36 Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters from France in June. India’s defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, told India Times that, “There is no reason why it should not be concluded in June. Not much is left. It is in the last phase.”
Comment and Analysis
For some time, the price of the deal was the central sticking point between France and India. However last month, Dassault offered a revised deal that could fit within India’s desired price range; the cost of it was reducing the maintenance support package from ten years to five.
While the deal is as close as it has ever been in terms of being finalized, it seems there are still a number of fairly serious aspects to conclude, such as the French government’s refusal to provide a bank guarantee to back the deal.
Although it is currently ordering two squadrons, it is expected that India will acquire additional Rafales in the coming years. However, Dassualt’s competitors are still hoping to land a portion of the IAF’s fighter modernization roadmap. For example, Lockheed Martin is toying with the idea of partnering with Tata Advanced System’s Limited to offer a domestically built F-16 variant.
In any case, the Indian military can take solace in the fact that they know exactly what they are getting with the Rafale, especially in terms of the valuable offsets (which will feed into India’s private defence industry).
Granted, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Saab are claiming to offer as much if not more, but nothing is certain until it is not only in ink in the contract, but fully approved by the relevant regulatory agencies in the U.S. and Sweden.