India Rafale offsets in motion, Dassault partners with Reliance Group
December 8, 2023
Two Egyptian Air Force Rafale fighters. Photo credit: Dassault Aviation

India Rafale offsets in motion, Dassault partners with Reliance Group

On Monday, Dassault Aviation announced that it will partner with Reliance Group, one of India’s leading private sector conglomerates, to begin executing its commercial offset commitment as part of a near $9 billion U.S. Rafale sale to India.

The Government of India inked an $8.8 billion U.S. sale for 36 Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters in the final week of September. In addition to the fighter and munitions package, the French government and industry had agreed to re-invest roughly 50% of the contract’s value in India.

According to the Economic Times, Dassault Aviation and Reliance Group will build a 100-acre facility in Nagpur, which will generate 1,500 jobs over the next seven years.

Notes & Comments:

Defense News’ Vivek Raghuvanshi described the Dassault-Reliance venture as “the largest-ever defence-industrial partnership so far announced in India.” Indeed, until now Tata Group was in the lead in terms of procuring big-ticket offset contracts, namely from Boeing (and increasingly Airbus). However, it is Anil Ambani’s Reliance that will the lead in fighter-related work.

It is not yet clear if this partnership will serve as the umbrella agreement for all Rafale-related offsets. The contract includes other French industry vendors as well, such as Thales, Safran, and MBDA. If the Reliance partnership is limited to just Dassault, then additional contracts may be on the table for other vendors in India. Granted, these will not be as lucrative as the Dassault-Reliant partnership.

A bit had been said about Reliance Group’s functional inexperience in defence industry work (especially in comparison to Tata Group). In recent years, Reliance Group has secured the trust of the Indian armed forces as well as foreign defence vendors – such as Thales – to engage in defence production tasks. Ultimately, this is a company which is strong in terms of efficiency and capital, which has enabled it to build capacity in relatively short order.