ndia is on the verge of signing a deal with France for 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets, likely when French defense minister Jean-Yves le Drian arrives in New Delhi later this week.
The jets may end up lugging nuclear bombs, as officials told The Indian Express this month that the jets are “to be used as an airborne strategic delivery system .”
That’s a polite way of saying India’s jets could drop nukes — one mission which Dassault specifically designed the multi-role Rafale to do. There’s also precedent here, as France previously sold and supplied spare parts for India’s Mirage 2000s, which are the most important delivery platform for New Delhi’s nuclear weapons.
The Rafale deal for 36 jets includes over 3 billion euros of work for the Indian industry over the next 7-8 years according to top defence ministry officials. “This has a huge potential to develop direct and indirect employment opportunities in India,” the official said. Besides high end technology like engine know-how, major structural assembly is also likely in India, besides a chunk of avionics work.
India will also get latest weapons like the Meteor and Scalp missiles as part of the contract, besides a 5 year support package that assures high availability of the fighter. India will pay a 15 % advance and deliveries are to start in three years. The deal was inked after negotiations that last close to 18 months, with Indian negotiators finally bringing down the price by 328 million euros.
India Specific enhancements
The Rafale deal caters to specific Indian air force needs. The fighter jet will be modified by France to meet the following:
* Helmet mounted sights and targeting system to give the pilots lightening quick ability to shoot off weapons.
* Ability to taken off from high altitude airbases like Leh on a ‘cold start’ – for quick reaction deployment
* A radar warning receiver to identify hostile tracking systems
* A towed decoy system to thwart incoming missile attacks
* French industrial support for fighter for 50 years
7.87 billion Euro: Deal cost. This includes weapon systems, five year support, training, infrastructure and warranties. 15% to be paid in advance.
91.7 million euros: as per contract, if other costs like weapons, training etc not counted, per unit price of single seat Rafale is 91.7 million euros
75 % availability: French side will ensure that at any given point, at least 75 percent of the fleet is combat worthy. Failing which, heavy penalities to be invoked.
67 months delivery: All aircraft ordered to be delivered within 67 months with first one coming in by 36 months
50% offsets: Indian industry to get major boost as French side will invest half of deal value in Make in India products or technology transfer. Indian Partners to be firmed up within a year.
328 million Euros: Saved by negotiation efforts by the Indian side on the Rafale deal, according to defence ministry sources
28/8: according to deal, India to get 28 single seater jets and 8 twin seaters for training.
BEST VS LATEST
The Rafale will be India’s most capable fighter aircraft. These, according to defence ministry officials, are the major capability differences it will make compared to the current best – the SU 30 MKI.
* 1.5 times of Su 30
* Range 780-1055 km vs 400-550 of Su 30
* 5 sorties per 24 hours against 3 by Su 30
* 75% availability against 55% of Su 30
India has managed to negotiate the acquisition of the latest weapons package for the Rafale. These are the new weapons, beyond the standard package.
SCALP: a precision long range ground attack missile that can take out targets with extreme accuracy. Has a range of 300 km, capped by the missile technology control regime.
METEOR: a beyond visual range air to air missile that is possibly the best in its class. Can take out enemy aircraft at range of over 100 km.