At a signing ceremony in New Delhi on 23 September the Indian government formally committed to the acquisition of 36 RAFALE combat aircraft – 28 single-seat and eight twin-seat variants. Contract was signed by Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in the presence of the Chairmen and CEOs of Dassault Aviation (Eric Trappier) and Thales (Patrice Caine).
RAFALE will equip two squadrons of the Indian Air Force – although the original requirement was for 126 aircraft. Sources close to the programme indicate first deliveries are anticipated within 18 months.
Years of negotiations have led to a contract price of 58,000 crore rupees (approx. €7.8 billion), including the usual spares and logistics support and also – importantly – the MBDA METEOR beyond visual range missile. The latter capability will have a dramatic effect on the balance of power in the region – neither Pakistan nor China yet have a comparable capability.
Offset arrangements include a commitment to invest 30% of the contract price in Indian military aerospace programmes and a further 20% in local manufacture of RAFALE components.
This success for the RAFALE team comes on the heels of contracts with Egypt (24 aircraft ordered in February 2015) and Qatar (24 aircraft in May 2015). RAFALE supports some 7,000 jobs in the major team members, Dassault Aviation, Thales and Safran, as well as throughout the supply chain of more than 500 companies.