After negotiations spanning over decades, the Rafale jets finally arrived in India, providing a boost to Indian Air Force’s capabilities.
Crux of the Matter
On 29 July2020, the first batch of Rafale jets arrived at Ambala in Haryana state.
- 1999: The Indian Air Force (IAF) demanded an upgrade in defensive capabilities after the Kargil war.
- 2001: 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) were demanded by the IAF. The NDA Government issued the RFI (Request for Information) in the same year.
- 2007: The UPA Government cleared the request for 126 MMRCA. 6 companies were issued the RFP (Request for Proposal) in the same year, demanding 126 MMRCA.
- 2011: Dassault Aviation for Rafale was selected for exclusive negotiations.
- 2012: Dassault Aviation for Rafale won the contract, and also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Reliance Group to partner in defence sector and to facilitate the Rafale deal. Dassault agreed to help Reliance to set up ₹1,500 crore factory in Bangalore to produce wings for jets created by HAL in India.
- 2015: The BJP Govt withdrew the tender of 126 jets.
- 2016: India and France agreed on a €7.87 billion deal for 36 jets in “flyaway condition”.
- 2020: 5 jets arrive in India, with all 36 jets to be present in India by 2022.
Problems In 2012 Negotiations
- 18 Rafale jets were to be obtained in “fly away condition” – 108 to be developed by HAL using transfer of technology
- Warranty: India wanted warranty of jets produced by HAL from Dassault, which was initially declined.
- Dassault envisaged 30 million man-hours to produce 108 Rafale jets in India. However, HAL estimated the man-hours as 2.7 times of the Dassault proposal.
Offset Clause And Reliance
The Deal was agreed with an offset clause, meaning that 50% of the total budget would be invested in India by Dassault. Consequently, Dassault agreed with Reliance to form Dassault-Reliance Aerospace (DRA), done after their 2012 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The key components for the jets would be made in India by DRA. In its 2018 statement, Reliance stated that it will get 25% of the offset, with the remaining to be shared between Thales, Saffran, MBDA, etc.
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- News 18 – The Rafale Saga: Delayed Timelines, Cost Escalation and An Executive Decision
- The Economic Times – Rafale deal: The controversy and some unanswered questions
- The Indian Express – Basic Rafale 2016 costs less than 2007, weapons extra: Officials
- The Print – IAF inducts Rafale today, here’s how the deadly fighter jets will boost India’s air power
- Scroll – Rafale explainer: How are Anil Ambani and Reliance involved in the controversial deal?