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India, France ink deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets

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New Delhi : India and France today signed the Euro 7.87-billion (Rs 59,000 crore approx) deal for Rafale fighter jets, equipped with latest missiles and weapon system besides multiple India-specific modifications that will give the IAF greater “potency” over arch rival Pakistan.

The Inter Governmental Agreement was signed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his visiting French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian 16-months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s plans to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in fly away condition during his trip to France.

The contracts for the deal was also signed earlier today. The ‘vanila price’ (just the aircraft alone) will cost about 91 million Euros each for a single seater and about 94 million Euros for a two seater trainer aircraft.

“Pleased to inform that India has signed an agreement for procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft with weapon systems, five years complete spares and maintenance, performance based logistics, India specific¬† special provisions. This is an achievement which will give the IAF the required potency in terms of penetration and capability,” Parrikar told reporters at the South Block.

The deal, first fighter plane contract in 20 years, comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros, gained through hard negotiations by the Indian side, over the one struck during the previous UPA government, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government, besides a 50 per cent offset clause.

The 50 per cent offset clause means that Indian businesses, both big and small, will gain work to the tune of over three billion Euros.

These combat aircraft, delivery of which will start in 36 months and will be completed in 66 months from the date the contract is inked, comes equipped with state-of-the-art missiles weaponry that will give IAF a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal.

The features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of IAF include its Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km.

Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while staying within India’s territorial boundary.

Pakistan at present has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India had used a BVR of 50 km range while Pakistan had none.

However, Pakistan later acquired 80-km-range BVR, but now with ‘Meteor’, the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India’s favour.

‘Scalp’, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km, also gives IAF an edge over its adversaries. Both missiles have a 2 metres precision which means that a target can be hit with high precision.

Defence Ministry sources said the Rafale, which has a range of 780 to 1055 km, depending on mission role, as compared to 400-450 of the Su30,  will be better than what even the French uses as it will have numerous India specific additions.

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