Defence ministry grants ‘acceptance of necessity’ for 26 Rafale (M) fighters, 3 Scorpene-class submarines for Indian Navy

Team India Sentinels Thursday 13th of July 2023 03:02 PM

A French Rafale (M) landing in US aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush. (Photo: US Navy)

New Delhi: The defence ministry’s Defence Acquisition Council has granted the “acceptance of necessity” to the Indian Navy to purchase 26 Rafale (Marine) or Rafale (M) fighter jets and three additional Scorpene-class submarines, on Thursday. As India Sentinels reported earlier, the defence procurement board had fast-tracked the proposal to acquire 26 Rafale (M) jets and the additional three Scorpene submarines before the DAC for its green signal. Out of the 26 marine warplanes, four would be trainers, sources in the defence ministry said.

The defence minister, Rajnath Singh, heads the DAC.

The AoN is the preliminary step towards procurement of a major defence item. It will have to clear a few more hurdles with the final clearance coming from the prime minister-headed Cabinet Committee on Security before the deal is signed.

This comes on a day the prime minister, Narendra Modi, left for France on a two-day visit to attend the Bastille Day parade in Paris, on July 14, where he will be the guest of honour. As India Sentinels had reported, the announcement of the deal is widely expected to be made during Modi’s visit to France.

France’s Dassault Aviation makes the Rafale warplanes while the country’s Naval Group makes the Scorpene submarines.

The total worth of the warplanes and the submarines is estimated to be worth around ₹90,000 crore.

The Indian Air Force already operates 36 of another version of the Rafale fighters. This is believed to have tilted the race for the contract in Dassault Aviation’s favour over the United States’ Boeing Defense, which had fielded its F/A-18 Super Hornet against the Rafale (M).

By opting for the Rafale (M), which has a lot of similarities with the IAF’s Rafales, India is expected to save costs on infrastructure, spares, and training. Like the 36 IAF Rafales, these 26 Rafale (M) for the Navy are likely to be manufactured in France.

The Navy said the Rafale (M) would replace the MiG-29K as its carrier-based fighter as a stop-gap arrangement until the indigenously built twin-engine deck-based fighter (TEDBF) is rolled out.

The Navy has already received the six Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel electric attack submarines from the original deal with France’s Naval Group. These six submarines were made in India under the Project-75, which India’s Mazagon Dock Limited and the Naval Group jointly executed. Five of them have already been commissioned in the Navy with the last one currently undergoing sea trials. However, keeping in mind the Navy’s depleting submarine fleet, the Navy has opted to go for another three submarines of the same class.

The next long-term submarine project in the pipeline is Project-75(i), which was to run simultaneously with Project-75 and replace the aging fleet of Sindhughosh-class submarines, is yet to get government sanction.


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