Rafale is a twin-jet combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence.
The Rafale was one of the six aircraft competing in the Indian MRCA competition for 126 multirole fighters. Originally, the Mirage 2000 had been considered for the competition, but Dassault withdrew it in favour of the Rafale. In February 2011, French Rafales flew demonstrations in India, including air-to-air combat against Su-30MKIs. In April 2011, the Indian Air Force (IAF) shortlisted the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon for the US$10.4 billion contract. On 31 January 2012, the IAF announced the Rafale as the preferred bidder. It was proposed that 18 Rafales would be supplied to the IAF by 2015 in fly-away condition, while the remaining 108 would be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India under transfer of technology agreements.The contract for 126 Rafales, services, and parts may have been worth up to US$20 billion.
The deal stalled due to disagreements over production in India. Dassault refused to take responsibility for the 108 HAL-manufactured Rafales, as it had reservations about the ability of HAL to accommodate the complex manufacturing and technology transfers of the aircraft. Instead, Dassault said it would have to negotiate two separate production contracts by both companies. The Indian Defence Ministry instead wanted Dassault to be solely responsible for the sale and delivery of all 126 aircraft. In May 2013, The Times of India reported that negotiations were “back on track”, with plans for the first 18 Rafales to be delivered in 2017.Another point of contention is a provision where Dassault was to reinvest 50 percent of the deal’s earnings into India’s defence sectors, either through purchases or technological expertise. In March 2014, the two sides were reported to have agreed that the first 18 aircraft would be delivered to India in flying condition and that the remaining 108 would be 70 percent built by HAL. In December 2014, it was reported that India and France expect to sign a contract by March 2015.
In April 2015, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris, India requested the rapid delivery of 36 Rafales in fly-away condition. Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar stated that these will be inducted into the IAF within two years.India officially withdrew the 126-aircraft MMRCA tender on 30 July 2015. Shortly after, India and France missed the July target of finalizing the 36-aircraft agreement. The previously agreed upon terms in April totaled US$8 billion for 36 planes costing $200 million each, with an offset requirement of 30 percent of the deal’s value for France to reinvest in India’s defense sector and create infrastructure in India for the Rafale to operate. India is insisting on a 50 percent offset and two bases, which France says will increase price and require separate infrastructure and two sets of maintenance, training, and armaments storage facilities.
Now after intense negotation sources from both India and France confirms that India orders the first batch of 36 Rafale’s from Dassault, The details of the agreement already shared with French and Indian authorities respectively. Sources close to France said, The actual contract value is some €5 billion which include spares, support systems, Base modification and Missile systems. IAF yet to select the Air bases who hosts the Rafale squadron.
It’s highly unlikely the first two squadron could be placed close to New Delhi, where future orders may deployed close to borders, The 36 numbers are very small when comes to operating manner, Maintaining 70% of service availability also a major problem. As IAF also pushing the government to buy more number of Rafale platforms in future under make in India program.
The total deal value is still under the first negotiated price of $ 5.7 billions and there is no price escalation on it. Each Rafale aircraft negotiated at some $70 millions in fly away condition. Half of the deal value is spend on buying missiles and spare parts to keep the Rafale running for next 40 years without ant shortage of supply.
The Rafale is obviously a costlier plane, same like other European products, So the missiles also costs too much. IAF is so much impressed with the performance of MICA missile series. Each MICA missile costs around some $3 millions. Earlier in 2012 IAF bought more than 500 MICA Missiles under some $1.3 billion deal.
Those 500 new missiles are brought to equipped in the newly upgraded Mirage fleet. IAF operates nearly fifty Mirage 2000 aircraft. Each mirage can carry nearly six modern MICA Missiles. MICA comes in two modes one is IR- for WVR another is EM for BVR mission.
The Rafale also carry the same MICA Missiles, IAF may spend some $1 billion for MICA missiles and another $1 billion for Meteor long range BVR missile, Meteor is known as one of the best available long range BVR missile.
India may also buy some hundreds of Exocet anti shipping cruise missile along with Rafale, However there is no information of that purchase. Since IAF uses the Russian Kh 35 missile on it’s Su 30 MKI and Harpoon missile on its Jaguar fleet.
Also It’s clear India may purchase thousands of AASM guided bombs along with the Rafale purchase. Rafale’s superior ground attack performance is scored by those guided bombs with Damocles NG pod, With the addition of more number of guided bombs may increase the IAF’s option of providing effective fire support to ground forces and ground targets.
Sources also confirms the official contract signature between the Indo French authorities will be signed day after the Republic day celebration and within a week IAF will send it’s team to France to get hands on experience and training on the Rafale aircraft.