French Defence Minister Assured Of Rafale Contract ‘Soon’

Shiv Aroor before Rafale flight | Photo / Arpit Agarwal
Indian government leaders informed visiting French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian yesterday that M-MRCA contract negotiations for the Dassault Rafale were progressing well, and that there was no cause for worry since the process was in its “final stage”, sources say. This was in response to the French minister enquiring about perceived and reported delays in the process.
Both sides are hopeful of a contract signature before March 2014.
As recently as April this year, the IAF had expressed some consternation to the MoD on the potential for delays in a contract signature, listing factors that could contribute. This was an off-the-books discussion held between the offices of the Deputy Chief of Air Staff and the Defence Secretary (the man who’s now India’s national auditor). Sources familiar with the discussion shared with the Livefist the following points from it (unedited):
  • CAS (Chief of Air Staff) had quoted expectations over all negotiations/paperwork for programme to be completed by Apr/May 13. Current status shows major heads unresolved.
  • Several issues of delay under major heads. (Transfer of technology, workshare, offset commitments and contractual matters)
  • Environment for contract becoming less optimal as political environment moves towards elections at states and centre.
  • Max. of 12 months left for General Elections, or 10 months before Code of Conduct is activated. Time to complete procedures short and decreasing.
  • Vested interests floating harmful speculations. Being taken up by press, both print and electronic.
  • Political leaders may raise questions or objections as in the past with programme.
  • Motivated reports about certain “back-up plans” need to be addressed. Message must be sent that IAF enjoys no back-up plan at this time.
  • Sqn strength at 34 (Offl sanctioned 42, and optimal strength is 39). Depletion already occuring, and will continue in case asset accrual does not take place on schedule.
Since April, things have progressed well, and as the IAF clarified on more than one occasion, things have indeed progressed substantively.

9 thoughts on “French Defence Minister Assured Of Rafale Contract ‘Soon’”

  1. India expressed interest in buying some surplus FRS.2 Sea Harrier when the Royal Navy decommissioned them, but British Government did not accept to sell them with the Blue Vixen radar.

  2. Isn't this really old news – as in many years old? Does the UK still have any surplus FRS-Mk-2s around ? And why would we want the Blue Vixen radar in any case when we already operate the Elta 2032 on the upgraded Sea Harriers which is streets ahead of the old Blue Vixen ?

  3. At least sign the deal before December 2013, election may be at March 2014. Also make sure the quality of the products that will be manufactured by HAL for RAFALE. I am still not sure why SU30MKI crashed? Is it because of low quality products by HAL? Also hat about Dassault's help on our Kaveri engine, are they still considering it?

  4. V need to conclude the ct as soon as wld b 2 late if it signed by new govt.v already spent 2 much time.

  5. please check the contract as it may come without engine like scorpene and the production may get delayed by 5-7 years and the avionics upgrade may cost more than 100 million like the mirage upgrade.Which country has delivered the products on time as per the commitment. I feel that Tejas Mark 2 and Mark 3 with internal weapons bay and two engines with stelth and back end like YF 23 would be a generation ahead of the rafale which is so expensive.With rupee dropping so low every possible effort be made to save foriegn exchange.Tejas be produced with huge numbers with suppliers chain started with few private , forign players with reliable supply history be included and actively involved and HAL should do the assembly which it does best. The need of the hour is tejas mark 1 to train the pilots , Mark 2 for air superiority role with bombing the targets on return and with stelth in Mark2 and 3 so that one plane can paint and others can remove the enemy targets and Mark 3 with stealth and high service cieling and special tiles covering the exhausts and fresh air mixed with exhausts so that they can deliver deep penetration roles at high altitudes with stealth. The New GE engine can deliver that kind of performance with 2 engines,and is atleast 2 generations ahead of rafale engine.It is time to quickly take help with MICO for microswitches and brake problems and new cone must be on its way and quickly conduct the remaing work for IOC and quickly start a massive production line.


  6. By the time rafale enters IAF service? Technolgy would have been obsolete. 2018 …. 2020. Just like LCA tejas dates get keep on postponing.

  7. If India wants an indigeneous fighter, India needs to put money into that. I would not acquire any foreign fighter. That money should be invested into both Tejas (covering the low end) and the 5th gen venture with Russia. With greater investments, both programs should be brought forward. Risky strategies? Not so if you put in your best people and make sure they outperform. If India does not believe in itself, who will?
    New technologies, I would look to form ventures with Japan. Guess who brought out the 1st ASEA radar? Japan in the late 1980s. It is now mid 2013, where is the ASEA radar on Rafale (25+ years after?). Japan has the technological leaderships on electronics and materials by far.

  8. I read a lot of sincere but misinformed comments, and a few who seem more disingenuous and malevolent.

    Worries about obsolescence? France, probably the last country in Europe (which includes UK!) which retains a strong, global military ambition, has designed the Rafale for a 40 year lifespan, and wouldn't have settled for a fast obsolescing fighter. The "modular system architecture" (i.e. "plug-and-play" in plain English) allows the replacement of an older subsystem with a newer one. Three examples: replacement of the early nineties vintage passive electronically scanned array (PESA) with a late 2000's Active array (AESA), which is now fitted on the latest production aircraft; the legacy IR missile detector (DDM) and front sector optronic (FSO) system (i.e. TV and IR seeker & imager cum laser range finder) will be shortly replaced by new generation variants (DDM NG & FSO NG). In addition, "obsolecence management" is built into France's Rafale programme.

    AESA? Rafale was the first operational fighter aircraft with an Electronically scanned array, albeit passive (see above the discussion about PESA and AESA). The know-how on electronic beam stearing and use thereof in an operational weapons system from the PESA was used in the AESA, hence a very fast and uneventful development, resulting in doubling of detection and tracking ranges.

    Engines? Contrary to other programmes (F-35) Rafale prices quoted for MMRCA include engines. The SNECMA M-88 is one generation ahead of the GE F-414 that will equip Tejas Mk2 (I don't believe the GE model has carbon fibre engine exhaust nozzles for better radar and IR stealth, like the M-88?).

    Discussion on a stealthy Tejas Mk 3 more advanced than Rafale?
    Leaves me speechless, to put it politely. Indigenisation is a worthy goal, what is proposed there is just out of touch with reality. Even the FGFA is hardly indigenous (a bit like F-35: a mostly Russian design with a lot of funds from the Indian foreign customer). My best bet: India's next chance for a genuine indigenous fighter will be AMCA, whenever that materialises. This won't be achieved by wishful thinking alone (the "best people" are too few and far between, and not working in a government and industrial environment conducive to optimal performance) but by structural reforms of MOD (stronger programme oversight capability) and industry (acountable, high performance DPSUs, and/or a level playing field for competition from private industry) along with a major thrust by GOI and industry in Human Ressources (professional programme managers viz bureaucrats in MOD; in the industry, enhancing quantity and quality of aeronautical engineers and mid-level technicians. Engineers must excell in programme management and not only in pure "rocket science", technicians building the hardware must be capable of repeatable technical performance, compliant with stringent aeronautical quality assurance norms.
    The French industry's experience and know-how infused by the MMRCA programme might go a long way into achieving the leap in human ressources quality needed in industry.

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