Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved proposals for the acquisition of 26 Rafale-M fighter jets from France to boost India’s blue water capabilities. Three proposals also were approved at the DAC meeting held on 13 July under the Chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi.
The mega defence projects will be announced after bilateral talks between Prime Minister Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday, 14 July. The DAC granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets along with associated ancillary equipment, weapons, simulator, spares, documentation, crew training and logistic support for the Indian Navy from the French Government based on Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA).
“The price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French Government after taking into account all relevant aspects, including comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries,” the Ministry of Defence in a statement.
The Ministry further informed that integrating Indian-designed equipment and establishing a Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) hub for various systems will be incorporated into the contract documents after due negotiations.
The Indian Navy aims to procure 26 deck-based fighter jets for the indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. After a lengthy process, the Navy had narrowed down on Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and French aerospace major Dassault Aviation’s Rafale M aircraft for procurement. Later, the naval variant of the lethal jet, Rafale-M, emerged as the winner in the tight race. India has procured 36 Rafale jets from France for the Indian Air Force. The Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in two decades after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
Another critical project with France would be the follow-on order of three Scorpene submarines. The DAC also granted the AoN for procuring three additional Scorpene submarines under the Buy (Indian) category, which will be constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL).
The Defence Ministry said that procuring additional submarines with higher indigenous content will help maintain the required force level, aid the operational readiness of the Indian Navy, and create significant employment opportunities in the domestic sector.
“It will also help the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited further enhance its capability and expertise in submarine construction,” the MoD said.
The DAC also approved the proposal to lay down guidelines for achieving the desired indigenous content in all categories of capital acquisition cases. The Ministry said that Indigenous manufacturing will help achieve ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in critical manufacturing technologies and the life-cycle sustenance of defence platforms/equipment. Under Project 75, six Scorpene submarines have already been made in India.