India and France on Friday signed the Euro 7.87-billion (Rs 59,000 crore approx) deal for Rafale fighter jets, equipped with latest missiles and weapon system besides multiple India-specific modifications that will give the IAF cutting edge capability over arch rival Pakistan.
The deal was signed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his visiting French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian sixteen months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India's plans to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in fly away condition during his trip to France.
The deal comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros, gained through hard negotiations by the Indian side, over the one struck during the previous UPA government, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government, besides a 50 per cent offset clause.
The 50 per cent offset clause means that Indian businesses, both big and small, will gain work to the tune of over three billion Euros. These combat aircraft, delivery of which will start in 36 months and will be completed in 66 months from the date the contract is inked, comes equipped with state-of-the-art missiles like 'Meteor' and 'Scalp' that will give IAF a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal.
The features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of IAF include its Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while staying within India's territorial boundary.
Pakistan at present has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India had used a BVR of 50 km range while Pakistan had none. However, Pakistan later acquired 80-km-range BVR, but now with 'Meteor', the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India's favour. 'Scalp', a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km, also gives IAF an edge over its adversaries.
Sources said the "vanilla price" of just the 36 aircraft is about 3.42 billion Euros. The armaments cost about 710 million Euros while Indian specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet-mounted displays, will cost 1,700 million Euros. Associate supplies for the 36 fighter jets will cost about 1800 million Euros while performance-based logistics will cost about 353 million Euros.
The tough negotiations by the MoD-IAF team extracted many concessions and discounts from the French before arriving at a price that is almost 750 million Euros less than what was being quoted by the French side in January 2016.
(Feature image source: Twitter| ANI News)