French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation wins Indian Air Force MMRCA deal worth $10.4 Billion. India plans to buy 126 aircraft from the company for the coming ten years. Sources say that the process of lowest bidder has been completed, Rafale emerged winner against the European Eurofighter Typhoon. According to the deal 18 aircraft will be directly bought from Dassault Aviation and the rest 108 aircraft will be manufactured in India with partnership with Indian companies.
The French government has agreed full technology transfer to India which also includes a advanced AESA radar (RBE2-AA) and software source codes which will allow India to further experiment or advance the Rafale platform.
Dassualt has also offered to fit the Kaveri engine into the Rafale which is a Indian indigenous jet engine, which would boost the development of Indian HAL Tejas ingenious fighter. Dassault Aviation also has offered Rafale M which is a carrier variant of the fighter, although not in deal it would increase the increase Indian naval capabilities since India is developing it’s own aircraft carrier. Indian Air Force already operated the French made Dassualt Mirage 2000 which had been a very capable fighter. Dassault believes that integration of Rafale into the Indian Air Force will be smoother. IAF purchased 49 Mirage 2000s, including 42 single-seaters and 7 two-seaters in the 1980s. In 2004, the Indian government approved purchase of ten more Mirage 2000Hs, featuring improved avionics, particularly an upgraded RDM 7 radar.
The IAF named the Mirage the “Vajra”, loosely translated as “Thunderbolt”. India also purchased appropriate stores along with the fighters, including ATLIS II pods and laser-guided weapons.
There have been concerns of potential sales to Pakistan since it also expresses interest in the Rafale. However there have been no serious offers or discussions. India and France have recently agreed to “go beyond a buyer-seller relationship”.
Six companies had bid for the deal, Russian Mig-35, Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet, Swedish SAAB Grippen, Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Super Viper, European Eurofighter and French Dassault Rafale. European Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale were shortlisted in April 2011.
On January 31st 2012, Dassault Rafale was announced the winner of the deal, there were immediate reactions to the decisions. Officials at the British High Commission in Delhi said they were disappointed with the decision and would now study the details. They added: “It was expressly said this was about the cost of the contract, not a reflection on the health of bilateral relations between India and the involved countries.”One Indian defence ministry source confirmed to Reuters that the Rafale had been “much cheaper unit-wise”, adding: “Moreover, the Indian air force, which is well-equipped with French fighters, is favoring the French.”