By Johnathan Wade, @TheSentinelCA
India and France’s Dassault signed an $8.8bn contract that will provide the Indian Air Force with 36 Rafale fighter aircraft.
After more than four years of negotiations, the deal was signed on Friday by India’s defense minister, Manohar Parrikar, and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. Both countries were able to overcome multiple obstacles and delays for this historic signature.
“You can only ever be completely sure once [the deal] has been signed and that’s what happened today,” said Le Drian.
India will have to invest half of the money it will pay to Dassault in its domestic aviation industry as part of the contract.
Back in 2015, India decided not to go forward with its project of acquiring more than 126 Rafale fighter jets from France. Instead, India decided to buy only 36. However, as stated in the The Times of India in 2015, New Delhi announced it needed 36 Rafale fighter jets as soon as possible.
Almost a year and a half later, the deal has finally been signed and will bring a much needed boost to the Indian Air Force.
That said, the first ready-to-fly Rafale fighter jets will be delivered in 2019 and India expect to have all 36 within the next six years. The fighter jets will be customized to fit the Indian Air Force standards.
Included in the contract is a clause stipulating that 75 percent of the Rafale must remain operational at any given time. Dassault will provide proper maintenance, spare parts and ammunition and is bound to have 27 aircraft combat-ready at any moment’s notice.
The $8.8bn deal with Dassault represents one of India’s biggest defense deal in decades.
The Rafale is currently flying combat mission over Syria and Iraq against Islamic State as part of the international coalition, and has been deployed to Libya and Afghanistan in the past.
Jonathan Wade served in the Canadian Forces for 14 years and is a combat veteran of Afghanistan. He owns The Sentinel, a blog on Canada, Russia and the Arctic. Specialized in military and foreign affairs, his military experience brought him valuable insight on the realities of conflicts and war, and has a fondness for technical details. Join Jonathan’s community on Twitter @JonathanWadeCD.