PM Narendra Modiís France visit may see announcement of big-ticket defence deals for Indian Navy

Team India Sentinels Monday 10th of July 2023 09:51 PM

A French navy Rafale (M). (File photo)

New Delhi: India may sign deals worth around ₹90,000 crore with France soon. The deals include 26 Rafale (Marine) or Rafale (M) warplanes and three additional Scorpene (Kalvari-class) submarines for the Indian Navy, sources in the defence establishment said on Monday. These deals are expected to be announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France, which is scheduled between July 14 and 16.

Modi will be the guest of honour in France’s main Bastille Day parade in Paris, on July 14. An Indian triservices contingent along with IAF’s Rafale fighter planes will take part in the marchpast and flypast in the parade marking the French national day.

According to the sources, the defence procurement board has already moved the proposal to acquire the 26 Rafale (M) maritime fighter planes and the additional three Scorpene submarines before the defence ministry’s Defence Acquisition Council for its green signal. As a procedure it is the DAC first grants the acceptance of necessity, which then sets the procurement process in motion. The DAC is headed by the defence minister.

As India Sentinels reported earlier, in December 2022, an official who didn’t want to be named said the Indian Navy had expressed its preference for Rafale (M) over United States’ F/A-18 Super Hornet, which was the only other naval fighter in the competition to bag the contract.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the key factor that went in favour of Dassault Aviation’s Rafale (M) in its bid against Boeing Defense’s F/A-18 Super Hornet is that the Indian Air Force has already acquired 36 Rafale fighters. The commonality of the fleet and the resultant savings on training, repairs and maintenance have reportedly tilted the scale in favour of the Rafale (M). The two versions of the aircraft have over 80 per cent common features.

It may be mentioned that the Indian Air Force has already procured and inducted 36 Rafale fighters in its fleet while the Navy has received all six Kalvari-class diesel-electric submarines under the Project-75. The sixth and the final submarine, Vagsheer, commenced her sea trials on May 18 and is expected to be commissioned in the Navy in early 2024. The Project 75 is being jointly executed by India’s Mazagon Dock Limited and France’s Naval Group.

The Navy has been looking to replace its carrier-based MiG-29K as an “interim” solution before India’s own twin-engine deck-based fighter (TEDBF) is rolled out. However, that is still believed to be some years away from fructifying.


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