Rafale Deal .............................................................

A Game-changer for In­dia

Libertatem Magazine - - Content - By Vaisakhi Mud­dana

As a part of the $100 bil­lion up­grade of its Soviet era mil­i­tary hard­ware, an In­ter-govern­men­tal Agree­ment has been signed be­tween In­dia and France for 36 Rafale mul­ti­role fighter jets for $7.87 bil­lion dol­lars. Th­ese fighter jets are be­ing man­u­fac­tured by a France Com­pany “Das­sault Avi­a­tion”. Ini­tially, many bids have come up such as MIG-35, Lock­heed’s Martin F-16s, Eurofighter Typhoon, Swe­den’s Saab’s Gripen and Rafale. Af­ter cru­cial anal­y­sis and tests, Rafale had bagged the bid by quot­ing the low­est bid for pro­vid­ing 126 Fighter Jets for $10.5 bil­lion dol­lars. But Last year when the Prime Min­is­ter vis­ited France, he an­nounced that a gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment con­tract would come into force for 36 Rafale Fighter Jets soon af­ter which he scrapped the process, in which ne­go­ti­a­tions were go­ing on with the Das­sault Avi­a­tion to pur­chase 126 Fighter Jets.

WHAT EX­ACTLY ARE RAFALE AIRCRAFTS?

Rafale aircrafts are known as “Om­ni­role aircrafts” which are ca­pa­ble of per­form­ing a wide range com­bat roles such as Air Supremacy, Ae­rial Re­con­nais­sance, Ground Sup­port, In­ter­dic­tion, In-depth Strike, Anti Ship strike and Nu­clear De­ter­rence. Th­ese Rafale Jets are equipped with the Me­teor de­sign, an Air-to-air Mis­sile with a range of 150 km and Air-to-ground range of 300 km, which can knock out of the other en­emy aircrafts and cruise mis­siles. In­dia will be the first coun­try in South Asia where this class of aircrafts is used. Nei­ther China nor Pak­istan has this class of aircrafts in their mil­i­tary. Af­ter a hard bar­gain for about 17 months, this deal has been signed be­tween In­dia and France.

Dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions by the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi last year, France agreed on a “fifty per­cent” off­set

clause. Due to this, thou­sands of jobs are cre­ated in In­dia and 3 bil­lion Eu­ros busi­ness is given to both big and small com­pa­nies.

The sign­ing of this deal has come as a breather for the In­dian Air Force, which has been grap­pling with dwin­dling fighter strength.

A ques­tion arises as to why the In­dian Gov­ern­ment has made a deal for 36 fighter jets, which cre­ates lo­gis­ti­cal and op­er­a­tional com­pli­ca­tions and thrusts up the over­all cost for rea­sons of economies of scale when it has got­ten a deal for $10.5 bil­lion for 126 fighter jets. This projects that the gov­ern­ment is prob­a­bly scout­ing for fighter jets, which are man­u­fac­tured in In­dia un­der the Make in In­dia ini­tia­tive to be in­ducted in large num­bers.

Early this year, there has been a leak of de­tailed in­for­ma­tion in re­gard to stealth Sub­marines, which are be­ing man­u­fac­tured by France mil­i­tary man­u­fac­turer DCNS af­ter a news­pa­per in

Aus­tralia, “The Aus­tralian”; claimed that it had ac­cess to over more than 22,000 pages of the in­for­ma­tion re­port on the Sub­ma­rine. The pages, which have been leaked, con­tained tech­ni­cal lit­er­a­ture, man­u­als, pre­sen­ta­tions and spec­i­fi­ca­tions on the Scor­pene sub­ma­rine project, which means the en­tire com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity of the six Scor­pene Class Sub­marines that they have de­signed for the In­dian Navy. Though there is no au­then­ti­cated re­port as to from which coun­try the in­for­ma­tion is stolen or leaked, it is be­lieved that it has been from the side of France as the in­for­ma­tion, which has been leaked, also con­tains deals that are not re­lated to In­dia. At the face value, this leak hits a ma­jor nerve as it com­pro­mises the se­cu­rity, which the sup­posed stealth sub­marines have to pro­vide as they be­ing the In­dian’s most modern stealthy weapon.

There has been a dis­cus­sion as to whether this leak af­fects the Rafale deal or not, which at that time is still in the process of ne­go­ti­a­tions. As per the De­fense Min­is­ter Par­rikar, he ques­tioned whether one can stop us­ing French prod­ucts just be­cause a leak has hap­pened in an­other coun­try. Ac­cord­ing to him “the com­pa­nies are dif­fer­ent, the type of equip­ment used is dif­fer­ent and also said that the in­for­ma­tion is not leaked in­ten­tion­ally.”

There­fore, it doesn’t af­fect the Rafale deal. Given the tech­no­log­i­cal so­phis­ti­ca­tion and the long range, the Rafales are ex­pected to play a lead role as nu­clear de­liv­ery plat­forms in In­dia’s sec­ond-strike ca­pa­bil­ity, re­plac­ing the Mi­rage

2000 fight­ers.

Clos­ing of the deal was very im­por­tant to In­dia as it is fac­ing de­plet­ing fighter strength in the In­dian Air Force and if the deal is not closed then China and Pak­istan are likely to have more strength than In­dia which could be dan­ger­ous.

Re­cent at­tacks on the Line of Con­trol, which have caused sig­nif­i­cant causal­i­ties are a pointer to this ef­fect that more at­tacks could be in line.

The Global Times ar­ti­cle, ti­tled “Asia arms im­ports on the rise as In­dia buys new jets”, is an in­di­ca­tion that both the gov­ern­ment and strate­gic cir­cles in China ,even if they were sur­prised at the In­dian op­er­a­tions, - are keep­ing a close watch on the de­vel­op­ments in the re­gion, es­pe­cially the es­ca­lat­ing ten­sion be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan. The above rea­sons in­di­cate the need for an in­crease in the Fighter strength. It also shows that by sign­ing the deal of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets with France, In­dia has taken a cor­rect de­ci­sion with­out let­ting the Sub­ma­rine leak is­sue com­ing in be­tween the ne­go­ti­a­tions of this Rafale deal.

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