Saturday, April 11, 2015

Indian PM Modi Requests Urgent Delivery of 36 Rafale Jets From France


Indian PM Modi Requests Urgent Delivery of 36 Rafale Jets From France

Sputnik News 

10 Apr 2015

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked France to urgently deliver 36 Rafale jets as quickly as possible.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on France Friday to urgently deliver 36 Rafale jets.

The official spokesperson for India's foreign ministry Syed Akbaruddin quoted Modi's words on Twitter:

"Have requested 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible."

Earlier, Le Monde reported that India agreed to purchase 63 Rafale jets for $7.7 billion, citing a source in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

In 2012, India chose France's Dassault Aviation to supply it with 126 Rafale multirole fighter aircraft.
The multibillion dollar project has long been surrounded by uncertainty due to its high costs and Dassault's unwillingness to guarantee the performance of Rafale aircraft produced in India under transfer of technology agreements.

Previously, media reports suggested that India might cancel the deal with France altogether and consider buying Russian or British fighter jets instead.


Further Reading

    Medium Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft   (MMRCA/MCRA)Multi-Role Fighter

On 10 April 2015, Indian Prime Minister Nradendra Modi announced, while on a state visit to France, that India would purchase 36 Rafale fighter jet aircraft. All 36 aircraft would be built in France; an increase from the original agreement's 18. Overall, the announcement still marked a decrease from the initial 126 Rafale that were to be sold and left unresolved the fate of the initial deal's remaining 90 aircraft.

It was reported on 31 January 2012, that India had selected the Dassault Rafale fighter jet as the winner of its MMRCA competition. The Dassault entrant had been selected over the Eurofighter Typhoon. It was reported that Dassault had been the lower of the 2 bidders, with the deal being estimated to be worth $11 billion. Under the deal, 18 Rafales were to be delivered ready-made, while 108 more would be built in India. Further negotiations were expected to take place before India finalized the agreement.

India has not yet awarded this contract. Rather, they had determined who was assessed as making the lowest bid and therefore asked to enter into further negotiations. But both BAE Systems and government body UK Trade and Investment [UKTI] have publicly stated that the Eurofighter Typhoon has not yet been ruled out for India. On 07 February 2012 it was reported that Eurofighter partners in the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany were to consider 'all options', including a potential price cut, in order to win India's multi-role fighter contract (MRCA). Price cuts were being considered, and BAE argued that Typhoon would be newer, more versatile and easier to modernise than the French aircraft.

The Medium Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MMRCA) / Multi-Role Fighter purchase will replace India's ageing Russian built MiG-21s, which date back to the 1960s. Russian aircraft make up most of India's fleet, which had no US-built hardware in it.

The Mirage-2000-5 and the SU-30K were the two aircraft that were considered to be feasible alternatives to replace obsolescent aircraft that the Air Force planned to phase out. While both aircraft were still under development, the Mirage-2000-5 was designed ab initio as a multi-role aircraft with identified avionics systems and weaponry. The SU-30K on the other hand was designed only for an air defence role. In order to improve the declining combat capability of the Air Force owing to fleet obsolescence, the Ministry contracted in November 1996 for supply of 40 SU-30 aircraft and associated equipment with its manufacturer at a total cost of US $1462 million.

The United States imposed military sanctions on Delhi following India's May 1998 nuclear tests. But the sanctions were phased out starting in late 2001, following September 11th, and bilateral ties have since flourished.

As of 2000 the French were negotiating the sale of 10 Mirage 2000, which the IAF needed to make up for attrition. The deal had been stalled since 1990 over price. The Mirage 2000 with IAF in 1985 technology, while the version under discussion was 1996 technology, but is not the latest Mirage 2000-5. In November 2002 Hindustan Aeronautics Limited along with the Indian Air Force participated in joint technical discussions with M/s Dassault Aviation, M/s Thales and M/s Snecma, France to assess the feasibility of production and transfer of technology for manufacture of Mirage 2000-5 MK II aircraft. The discussions are at a preliminary stage.

As of March 2002 the IAF reportedly had plans to acquire as many as 126 Mirage 2000-5s to equip seven squadrons. The IAF reportedly wanted 36 Mirage 2000-5s to be delivered in completed form, with the remainder to be assembled by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) at Bangalore.

India's program to acquire 126 new multirole fighters may be worth more than $9 billion within the next two years. According to Moscow Defense Brief the number of the planes may increase up to 180-190 and the price of the contract will increase up to eight billion dollars.

What began as a lightweight fighter competition to replace India's shrinking MiG-21 interceptor fleet bifurcated into two categories and two expense tiers. In January 2005 it was reported that the program appeared to have shifted its preference toward a twin-engined aircraft. This would rule against platforms such as Dassault's Mirage 2000H, Lockheed Martin's F-16 and the Saab/BAE Systems Gripen, and put into play Dassault's Rafale, RSKMiG's MiG-29 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. India will not consider a further derivative of Sukhoi's Su-30.

In February 2005 Indian Air chief Air Marshal SP Tyagi said the air force would acquire 126 fighter aircraft from different countries. The first jet worth Rs 2.5 billion would arrive in India by 2007. Air Marshal SP Tyagi stated that the Indian government was negotiating acquisition of aircraft with the US, France and Russia. A Request for Information (RFI) had been sent to four firms - Lockheed Martin (F-16), MiG RAC of Russia (MiG 29 M2), Dassault Aviation of France (Mirage 2000-5) and Gripen of Sweden. "F-16 is one of the aircrafts we are looking at along with three other aircrafts of similar capabilities. We are not only considering their multi-role combat capabilities but also air superiority," Tyagi said on the sidelines of an international aerospace seminar being held as part of the Aero India event. The Indian air force got the chance in October 2004 to go head-to-head with Singapore [RSAF] F-16s during a joint exercise at Gwalior.

The Bush administration said 25 March 2005 it was notifying Congress of plans to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. President Bush telephoned Indian Prime Minister Monmohan Singh to tell him of the move, drawing what an Indian government spokesman said was an expression of great disappointment. In his conversation with Indian Prime Minister Singh, President Bush said the United States will respond positively to India's request for bids for new planes, though he noted this does not constitute a sale.

There has been some speculation that the Bush administration may be ready to sell high-end F-16 planes to India. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. told NDTV's Rajdeep Sardesai in a 16 March 2005 interview: "We will talk about defense requirements, and I look very much forward to doing that. We want very much for there to be a military balance in the region that preserves peace. We take note of the warming relations between India and Pakistan, very good for South Asia, very good for the entire region, very good for the world. But we are developing a very good defense relationship with India. We've had exercises. We were very much part of an effort with the tsunami, where I understand that India was able to deploy ships within 48 hours. That's extraordinary. So we have a lot of work to do together, and I want this defense relationship to work."

On 16 March 2005 Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh noted: "The Next Steps in the Strategic Partnership, or NSSP, Phase II should be concluded fairly soon. ... It is known, India and the United States have an ongoing dialogue on defense, on various aspects of it, on defense supplies, on defense equipment, and every issue was brought up, including F-16, and as the Secretary has said, no announcement is going to be made. We discussed every aspect of our defense relationship with the Secretary of State, and if anything else happens between now and lunch, I'll let you know. ... we did express certain concerns about certain matters on the defense issue as to how it might pave some complications I think there are no serious differences of opinion. There are one or two items on which we don't agree. Our relations will now reach a maturity but we can discuss these things freely and frankly and place our views firmly on record, and our views with regard to F-16 (inaudible)."

As of July 2005, Boeing had also offered its F/A-18E/F "Super Hornet" for the Indian Air Force's consideration. Boeing said that it was in talks with the IAF and the Navy and was also offering the co-production of the Super Hornet in India, subject to US government approval. In August 2005, Russia offered its MiG-35 for the IAF's consideration as well.

In March 2006 came a surprise pullout by France's Dassault on the eve of the Request For Proposals (RFP). As a result, the Mirage 2000 v5 is no longer in the fray, despite the fact that India already flies 40 Mirage 2000Ds and its senior officials had touted standardisation as a plus factor.

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major said in July 2007 that the air force wanted to reduce the inventory in its combat jet arsenal to three aircraft systems only, and over the next few years, it would use the home-made Tejas as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the new MRCAs as the Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA) and the 35-ton SU30-MKIs as the Heavy Combat Aircraft (HCA).

The Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) RFP capped a process that began in 2001, when the IAF sent out its request for information (RFI) for 126 jets. After delays lasting almost 2 years beyond the planned December 2005 issue date, India's Ministry of Defence finally announced a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) on 28 August 2007. Under the terms of purchase, the first 18 aircraft will come in a 'fly away' condition, while the remaining 108 will be manufactured under Transfer of Technology. Some reports add an option for an additional 64 aircraft on the same terms, bringing the total to 190 aircraft. The selection process was likely to take at least 2 1/2 years, with source selection at the end of 2009, followed by lengthy price negotiations, and probably including delays along the way.

Indian Air Force's (IAF) 126 multi-role combat aircraft were planned to be procured around 2012. Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major said October 30, 2007 that "All going well I am looking at the first induction of MMRCA by 2012-13. The delivery begins 48 months after the contract is signed. Evaluation of the aircraft will take at least two-three years." As of 2007 the Indian Air Force (IAF) had around 30-32 squadrons worth of serviceable aircraft. This was well below the target of 39 1/2. About 21 squadrons flew MiG-21s of one vintage or another, and overall squadron strength was projected to plunge to 27 during the 2012-2017 period.
By the time the evaluation process is complete, the size of the order is likely to rise to around 200 jets, as the IAF, which was down to 32 squadrons from a high of 39 1/2, expected to see a further depletion of its fleet due to the retirement of some its ageing Soviet-era MiG-21 aircraft.

In January 2009 the Swedish manufacturer of Gripen, SAAB International, proposed to India transfer of technology to become 'an independent manufacturer' of its own fighter jets. Looking forward to the trials for the medium multi-role combat aircraft, SAAB favored 'extensive transfer of technology' well in excess of 60 percent requirement to boost India's indigenous capabilities in this regard.

India's long-running Multi-Role Fighter competition narrowed on 27 April 2011 as the field was narrowed from six to two contestants. The American bids for Lockheed Martin's F-16 and Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet were rejected, as was the Swedish Gripen and Russian MiG-35. Dassault Rafale fighter of France and the joint Eurofighter Typhoon project were still in the running. The US countered with an offer to sell the F-35 to the Indians, including possibly the short-takeoff version to operate off Indian aircraft carriers. If successful, it would perhaps be the death blow to European fighter sales to Asia.

By early 2012 State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was preparing to progressively manufacture the Dassault Rafale combat jet that has apparently been chosen by the Indian Air Force (IAF) for its $10.4 billion order for 126 planes. The first 18 aircraft would come in fly-away condition, within three years of signing of the contract and meanwhile, HAL would get the production tooling, expertise and technical know-how under transfer of technology from the French. The remaining 108 aircraft would initially be progressively manufactured from SKD (semi-knocked-down) and CKD (completely knocked-down) kits. Gradually, HAL would start producing the fuselage and other parts from the raw materials. Dassault engineers would assist in technology transfer and production plants.

India insisted that Dassault take full responsibility for the aircraft produced at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. plant in Bengaluru. Negotiations had been deadlocked for over a year on this point. France said it cannot give guarantees for production of the aircraft made at a facility over which it has no administrative or expert control. The Indian government would decide on the Rafale deal only after the ministry's contract negotiations committee submitted its report in early March 2015.

Under a new proposal in March 2015, Dassault would not be liable for penalties if Hindustan Aeronautics failed to deliver the planes on time. The deal was initially worth $12 billion but was widely estimated to have jumped to $20 billion, primarily because of the implications of building some of the jets in India. Under terms of the contract, 18 of the planes will be sold ready-to-fly while the rest will be assembled at an Indian state-run facility.

The four-nation European Aeronautic Defense and Space consortium (EADS) reaffirmed its proposal to offer Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to India if its long-disputed deal to acquire French Rafale jets falls through, German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner said 08 April 2015. "The consortium stands ready with their proposal. The governments of the four nations are supporting this proposal because they are convinced it is a good one both in terms of quality of the product and price," the diplomat was quoted as saying by the Indian news outlet Odisha Sun Times.

India had yet to make a final decision on whether it will acquire French Rafale fighter aircraft and some saw the Russian-designed SU-30 multirole fighter as an alternative if the deal with France’s Dassault Aviation falls through, a source in the Indian Ministry of Defense told Sputnik on 12 January 2015. “No doubt there are complications regarding the Rafale deal as the deal is lingering but at present no final decision has been taken by the Ministry of Defense in this regard and status quo remain the same. But in case the deal fails SU-30 may be the option,” the source said.

Acquiring Russian-designed Sukhoi Su-30MKI instead of France's Rafale fighter aircraft would be the most beneficial option for India in terms of price and performance characteristics, a spokesman for the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT) said 12 January 2015. “If India chooses not to buy French Rafale fighter aircraft in favor of Russian Su-30MKI, it would be beneficial for the Indian side in every aspect. The tactical and technical characteristics of the Russian plane are much better than those of the French fighter jet,” the spokesman said.


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