What is Rafale?
Rafale (French word literally means “Gust of wind”, “burst of fire”) is a multirole fighter aircraft. Designed and built by French company Dassault Aviation, the first Rafale was produced in 1986.
What is a fighter aircraft?
The fighter aircraft is a military aircraft primarily designed to fight another aircraft in air. The fighter is known for its speed, maneuverability, and small size when compared to other combat aircraft.
Rafale deal during Congress/UPA government
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had projected a requirement of aircrafts. Thus a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender was floated in 2007 to procure 126 multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force.
The contest featured six fighter aircraft: Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, Mikoyan MiG-35, and Saab JAS 39 Gripen.
After evaluation, on 27 April 2011, IAF reduced the bidders to two fighters—Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale. On 31 January 2012 it was announced that Dassault Rafale won the competition due to its lower life-cycle cost, and India and France were expected to sign the contract by March 2015.
As per the negotiations, originally under UPA government India planned to buy 18 Jets and other 108 being assembled in India by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru. The deal did not come through.
Deal during BJP/NDA government
Initially, BJP had called off the Rafale deal. However, in 2015 during France visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with France President François Hollande announced the purchase of 36 Rafale Jets instead of 126. This was a announcement and without approval of the cabinet committee on security.
On September 2016 India and France signed $8 billion / Rs 59000 crore (approximately) agreement to buy 36 Rafale Jets. The delivery of the jets will start from September 2019.
- Congress, the present opposition accuses BJP government is buying each aircraft for Rs 1,670 crore where as UPA government has finalised at RS 526 crore (1)
- Second bone of contention is the Dassualt partnership with Reliance Defence Limited. Opposition parties are questioning this partnership as Reliance Defence Limited is a new company and does not have expertise in this field.
On February 2015 Reliance Infrastruture limited, part of Reliance group announced the set-up of 3 subsidiaries – Reliance Defence Systems Pvt. Ltd, Reliance Defence Technologies Pvt. Ltd and Reliance Defence and Aerospace Pvt. Ltd—to pursue growth opportunities in the defence sector. (2)
Meanwhile the Pipavav Defence and Offshore engineering Co. Ltd driven in debt was looking for a buyer. On March 4, 2015, Reliance Infrastructure announced to buy Pipavav Defence.
(April 2015 Prime Minister Modi made announcement to buy 36 jets. Congress alleges that RDL was formed 12 days before the announcement.)
On October 2016 Dassualt announced partnership with Reliance Defence Ltd(RDL) as a key player in the execution of offset obligation. According to the offset clause 50% of the deal’s amount needs to be invested into the Indian defence ecosystem. That was the first defence order for RDL.(3)
(On September 2016 India and France signed $8 billion / Rs 59000 crore (approximately) agreement to buy 36 Rafale Jets.)
The sequence of events from the formation of Reliance Defence Limited to Prime Minister’s sudden announcement of Rafale Deal to signing of the Deal, has raised many questions. Other than Reliance, below is the list of seasoned players in Indian defence industry.
The top defence manufacturers of India
- Tata Advanced Systems
- ASHOK Leyland
- Kalyani Defence Systems
- IAF: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is the air-arm of the Armed Forces of India and has the primary responsibility of conducting aerial warfare, defending the Indian airspace, conducting strategic strikes inside enemy territory and providing aerial cover to ground troops. It is the fourth largest air force in the world, with a strength of more than 1,500 aircraft, including more than 750 combat aircraft.
- Bone of contention: Main issue of disagreement
- Maneuverability: A planned and regulated movement or evolution of troops, warships, etc.
- Combat: Fight, especially during a war
What to do…
- Find out what other Fighter Aircrafts does India own?
- Who is the current President of France?
- Locate France in the Map
Pic Source: Geology.com