India to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France

Indian government buys only 36 French fighter jets despite France’s hopes to sell 126 Rafales to Asian giant

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

India will buy only 36 Rafale fighter jets from France due to “expensive prize” of the planes, although the parties had previously agreed to trade 126 jets, which was once regarded as a lucrative bonanza for Paris.

Indian Defence Minister  Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday that his country would only deliver 36 Rafale fighter jets from the French manufacturer Dassault Aviation due to high cost of the jets despite previous government’s plan to buy 126 jets.

Parrikar stated that they would order only 36 and not buying the rest of the jets since such a military spending was "economically unviable and not required."

India and France have been negotiating a military deal, worth of 12 billion euro ($15 billion), for the selling of 126 Rafale jets which would be France's first foreign sale of the combat-tested planes.

But the high costs and lack of assembly guarantees have frustrated the tortuous years-long bilateral negotiations.

India’s one-year in office Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given the signs of his government would deliver 36 of the "ready to fly" planes that are worth to €5 billion (US$5.5 billion) during an official visit to Paris in April.

The French firm Dassault Aviation has been striving for years to sell the Rafale jets abroad, but could not have succeeded until very recently.

French President Francois Hollande last month also signed a 6.3-billion-euro deal with Qatar to sell Rafale fighter jets and Paris is also currently in talks with the United Arab Emirates to sell some 60 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.

The Rafale jets have been in service for the French Air Force since 2006.

The Indian Defense Minister clarified that New Delhi had to narrow the amount of fighter jets delivered by France, because the Rafales would blow the defence ministry's procurement budget.

"I also feel like having a BMW and Mercedes. But I don't because I can't afford it. First I can't afford it and second I don't need it," Parrikar told the Press Trust of India (PTI) on Sunday.

India has recently launched an ambitious military modernization program that is worth of 100 billion dollars as the Asian giant felt itself in a security dilemma due to the ongoing armament race with its regional rivals China and Pakistan.  

Over the time, India has become one of the world's largest arms importers, since its booming economy enabled New Delhi to modernize its huge military.

Major arms producers are wooing the country as it replaces its obsolete Soviet-era weapons by purchasing new equipments.

However, India’s nationalist Premier Modi desires to end New Delhi’s security dependency on the foreign military equipments as the country was once known as the world's number one defence importer, but gradually became to be able to produce almost 70 percent of its hardware manufactured domestically by the turn of the decade.

India’s air force is believed to have around 700 fighter aircraft, which places the country only behind the US, Russia, and China.

TRTWorld and agencies