Pm Modi may unveil Rafale-M deal on Bastille Day in France next month

Sources – Newindianexpress

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce a multi-billion dollar deal to acquire 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets during his visit to France. The Prime Minister will be in France on July 17 this year as the guest of honour at the Bastille Day parade.

This paper was the first to report that the Indian Navy has expressed its preference for the deck-based French Rafale Marine over the F-18 Super Hornets of the US. Their price is yet to be revealed, but sources said these multi-role carrier-borne fighters will be cheaper than those the Indian Air Force bought earlier.
They will be bought through a government-to-government deal instead of taking the open tender route.

The Indian Navy has been scouting for a suitable fighter to be deployed on aircraft carrier INS Vikrant to replace its aging MiG 29Ks. Sources said its quest ended with Dassault’s Rafale Marine, which has over 80% features of the IAF’s Rafales. The savings that will result on account of training, repairs and maintenance due to the commonality of the fleet made the Navy prefer the French fighter.

Sources said besides the fleet commonality, the Indian Navy brass was impressed by the Rafale-M’s capabilities during a joint exercise and the operational demonstration test conducted in India. After the tests, the Navy informed the Ministry of Defence that Rafale-M was best suited for its needs.

The ministry has worked out a detailed maintenance, spares and training contract, which includes building an on-board maintenance facility on INS Vikrant and one on the ground in Goa, besides training the ground crew and pilots. The fighters will be equipped with sophisticated maritime systems, including maritime search radars capable of detecting submarines, besides warships.

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India is working on a long-term plan to develop indigenous deck-based fighters in association with public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). These twin-engine deck-based fighters are designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency and will be manufactured by HAL. The aircraft, first displayed at the Aero India in 2021, will take a few years for deployment. The Navy has, therefore, decided to go in for an outright purchase to meet its short-term needs.

Race with Super Hornet
The Rafale-M and Boeing’s Super Hornet were locked in a dogfight to bag the Indian Navy’s order