Monday, 1 October 2012

IAF to finalise $20b Rafale fighter plane deal this fiscal

The Indian Air Force (IAF) would finalise the multi-billion dollar contract with Dassault Aviation of France during this fiscal (2012-13) for the supply of its 126 Rafale fighters, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said on Thursday.

“The negotiations are absolutely on. We hope that at least this financial year we should be able to finish the negotiations and finalise the deal,” he said.

“It is a very complex project, as we are discussing various areas like transfer of technology, the offset (clause), what HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) will do and the cost as well,” Browne told reporters on the margins of an event here.

The 126 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) are set to phase out the ageing MiG-21 fleet of the Soviet era and enhance the air force’s strike power.

“Costing is also being discussed. As per the RFP requirement, costing is part of the negotiations going on with Rafale fighter, which was selected through a global bidding,” Browne said.

Earlier, he received the indigenous airborne radar system - Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) - developed by the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and mounted on an Embraer aircraft of Brazil here.

Though the cost price of the Rafale fighters has not been spelt out officially, the deal is estimated to be $20 billion due to inordinate delays in the bidding and selection process.

Of the 126 fighters, Dassault is expected to deliver 18 in fly-away condition and licence the state-run defence behemoth HAL to manufacture the remaining 108 aircraft at its Bangalore complex.

Rafale emerged the lowest of the two bidders that were short-listed, Typhoon of the European consortium EADS Cassidian being the other contender.

When the IAF signs the contract, it will be the first export order for Dassault as Rafale is the frontline combat jet of the French air force.

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