India wants France to stick to the original terms and conditions of the deal to materialize the purchase of Rafale fighter jets, or it might cancel its plan. If Dassault fails to comply, India is likely to opt for the Russian designed Su-30, which is currently being produced domestically.
France based Dassault Aviation still has a chance to ink the agreement which is huge in terms of price as India is ready to spend $20 billion on medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) to meet its needs. The contract will bind Dassault to deliver 126 Rafale fighter jets to the Indian Air Force.
“Ultimately, it has to fit the RFP (request for proposal)… if it does not fit the RFP, nothing can be done,” said Minister Parrikar in an interview with the Headlines Today TV channel.
The Rafale deal should be either finalized or ditched before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits France and Germany in April, Parrikar said. India invited representatives of Dassault to talk out issues and the details of the deal.
Dassault Aviations won the MMRCA contract in 2012. The original conditions implied production of the initial 18 aircraft in France, with the remaining 108 units to be produced at the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) facility in India under a technology transfer agreement. The license for 108 aircraft to be produced in India supposed 74 Rafales would be rolled out in a single-seat version and 34 aircrafts would be twin-seat. Currently, France seems reluctant to promise local production in Indian facility, which appears as the reason to hamper contract signing.
“The Sukhoi 30 choice is always there. What I mean to say is: upgrade the Sukhoi 30, make it more capable,” said Manohar Parrikar.
The Su-30MKI fighter jet was developed to meet requirements of India by Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau. Roughly, 200 aircraft has already entered the service as of August 2014.
The minister also made it clear that the IAF is concerned with the fighter costs. “It is not always… go and purchase it. A cost effective purchase is also important,” he said.
The average cost of a Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet is approximately $56 million. On the other hand, cost of Rafale fighter varies from €64 million to €90 million ($75-$106 million).