PARIS and NEW DELHI — India’s surprise request to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in an off-the-shelf order reflects a pragmatic pursuit that shortcuts a lengthy local build program to more swiftly meet Air Force requirements, analysts said.
“I asked [French president Francois Hollande] to supply us with 36 Rafale jet fighter planes, the ready-to-fly models,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said April 10 at a joint press conference at the Elysée presidential office, Agence France-Presse reported.
The new deal for 36 will be under a government-to-government contract, the French daily Le Monde reported. Modi announced the plan on the first day of a two-day state visit to France.
That figure of 36 doubles an initial batch of 18 Rafales built in France that prime contractor Dassault Aviation had been due to deliver within India’s prospective total order of 126 fighters for $12 billion. The French company has been locked in three years of contract negotiations as New Delhi sought to boost the domestic industrial base with local assembly of 108 units.
Details on price and the total number of Rafales to be bought under the new proposal remain unclear. Indian Ministry of Defence officials were unavailable for comment.
A Reuters report indicated the purchase could be worth about €4 billion (US $4.3 billion).