New Delhi: The Indian Navy is likely to see “progress” in the procurement of Rafale fighter jets for its warships and Scorpene submarines as the talks for these will be firmed up during the upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India as the Republic Day chief guest, ABP LIVE has learnt. President Macron will be having a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the visit.

Both the deals were discussed earlier this year when PM Modi visited France in July. Prior to that visit, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, approved the purchase of the 26 Rafale Marine (Rafale-M) jets that will be deployed on aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya.

This comes after the Navy opted for Rafale-M over Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet in a tightly contested bid. The Navy currently operates Russian MiG 29K for INS Vikrant and it wants to go for a completely indigenous fighter jet in the future. Therefore, the Rafale M, which will be imported from France, will be in use on a temporary basis.

France has already responded to the proposal made by the Navy with the price bids for the 26 jets and the three Scorpène submarines. A decision has been taken to expedite the evaluation process and launch the negotiations for a deal that is expected to be worth around $5 billion. The contract is expected to be signed once the price range is finalised later this year, sources involved in the process told ABP LIVE.


Price Negotiations To Begin Early 2024

During the visit of President Macron to India next month, the Scorpene submarine deal will be finalised too. Both the deals will soon undergo final price negotiations, which will begin early next year, the sources said.

The Indian Navy plans to purchase three additional Scorpene-class conventional submarines, which is a follow-on order to an older contract under which India has already procured six submarines from France’s Naval Group, which was manufactured by the Mazagon Dock Ltd. (MDL) in Mumbai with full transfer of technology.

MDL, the sources said, has once again submitted the price offer for manufacturing the three more submarines. MDL had already made provisions to accommodate the production of more submarines in its facility when it was making the six submarines.

According to the sources, both governments will now set up a cost negotiation committee as this is a government-to-government deal under an inter-governmental agreement.

“Currently, MiG-29 jets are part of the INS Vikrant fighter fleet. The state-of-the-art French fighter jets Rafale-M will replace MiG-29s … By 2040, the Indian Navy will develop the operational readiness to operate more than 45 twin-engine marine fighter jets,” Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar had said in August this year.

India will be the only country that will operate both the variants of the aircraft in the air and at sea. New Delhi had earlier bought 36 Rafale fighters from Dassault Aviation for the Indian Air Force.

According to the sources, the Navy is in a hurry to procure the jets and the submarines as China deployed six warships, including a guided-missile destroyer, in the Middle East for an exercise earlier in October.