India clears procurement of 26 Rafale jets, three Scorpene submarines

The defence procurement projects are expected to be announced following PM Modi's talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.

New Delhi: India on Thursday cleared proposals to procure 26 Naval variant of Rafale jets from France and three French-designed Scorpene class submarines on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a two-day high-profile visit to Paris.

The procurement proposals were approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the defence ministry said.

Four of the 26 Rafale-M jets, the naval variant of the deck-based platform, will be trainer aircraft, sources in the defence establishment said.

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The delivery of the aircraft will begin within three years of signing of the contract, they said, adding it may take close to one year to seal the final deal as detailed price negotiations are to be undertaken.

“The DAC granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of 26 Rafale Marine aircraft along with associated ancillary equipment, weapons, simulator, spares, documentation, crew training and logistic support for the Indian Navy from the French Government based on Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA),” the ministry said.

It said price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French government after taking into account all relevant aspects, including comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries.

“Further, integration of Indian designed equipment and establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) hub for various systems will be incorporated into the contract documents after due negotiations,” it said in a statement.

The defence procurement projects are expected to be announced following PM Modi’s talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.

The DAC, which is the defence ministry’s highest decision making body on procurement, also cleared a proposal for construction of three more Scorpene submarines in India.

“The DAC also granted the AoN for procurement of three additional Scorpene submarines under Buy (Indian) category which will be constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL),” the ministry said.

It said the procurement of additional submarines, with higher indigenous content, will not only help in maintaining required force level and operational readiness of the Indian Navy, but also create significant employment opportunities in the domestic sector.

“It will also help the MDL in further enhancing its capability and expertise in submarine construction,” it added.

The MDL has already constructed six Scorpene submarines five of which are already in service.The sixth one is likely to be commissioned early 2024.

The DAC approved another proposal to lay down guidelines for achieving the “desired indigenous content in all categories of capital acquisition cases”, the ministry said.

“It will help in achieving ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in critical manufacturing technologies and life-cycle sustenance of defence platforms/equipment through indigenous manufacturing,” it added.

Officials said the Indian Navy is looking for procurement of 26 deck-based fighter jets for indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

After a lengthy process, the Navy had narrowed down on Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and French aerospace major Dassault Aviation’s Rafale M aircraft for the procurement.

Later, Rafale-M emerged as the winner in the tight race.

India has already procured 36 Rafale jets from France for the Indian Air Force.

The Rafale jets were India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 year after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.

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