Source: LiveMint.com, Sept 23, 2016
New Delhi: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar signed an agreement with French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA that will give India an edge over Pakistan.
The deal, estimated at $8.9 billion, has been in the works for years. India started the hunt for multi-role fighter jets in 2007. It finally decided to scrap that tender and announced it will buy 36 Rafale jets directly from France under a government-to-government deal during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris last year.
These combat aircraft, delivery of which are expected to start in 36 months and be completed in 66 months from the date the contract is signed, come equipped with state-of-the-art missiles like ‘Meteor’ and ‘Scalp.
With the Meteor missiles, Indian Air Force will be able to hit targets as far as 150km away, compared with 80km it has so far been capable of targeting. Scalp, an air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300km, will also gives the IAF an edge over its adversaries.
“The fact that we are getting good weapons means it’s a good deal even though it has taken nine years to come through,” said Laxman Kumar Behera, an analyst at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).
Under India’s so-called offsets policy, Dassault will have to procure Indian-manufactured components equivalent to a certain value of the deal to help local defence manufacturing.