Sep 25, 2016
India signs 36-unit Rafale contract
Finalisation of the contract brings to a close a long-running acquisition process to equip the Indian air force with the Rafale, which was selected as the winner of its medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender in 2012, defeating the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon. Other previous candidates for the deal included the Lockheed Martin F-16, RAC MiG-35 and Saab Gripen.
The air force was originally slated to acquire 126 aircraft via the programme, but the original deal ran aground over cost concerns. It was revived by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France in 2105, when he declared that 36 aircraft would be acquired in “fly-away” condition from Dassault. This was keeping in view the “critical operational necessity” of the service, he said at the time.
It remains to be seen if India will decide at a later date to acquire additional fly-away examples of the type, or whether production could be transferred to India at a later date – as was the intention under the original MMRCA tender.