NEW DELHI: India on Friday inked a Rs 59,000 crore (euro 7.87 billion) deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from the defence company, Dassault.
The Rafale is the first fighter jet procurement by India in over two decades and is tipped to significantly enhance the capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and swing the balance decisively in favour of India vis a vis Pakistan’s air strike capability.
The aircraft can carry nuclear weapons and the latest generation of missiles, and come with several India-specific India-specific modifications that would give the IAF greater potency over Pakistan, and fire missiles further into enemy territory without crossing the border.
The Rafale is a multi-role fighter aircraft capable of undertaking all types of missions with a capability to perform both air defence and ground attack roles in a single mission.
The deal promises to vest the combat aircraft with various India-specific modifications: including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking, towed decoy systems, among others.
The deal signed on Friday by defence minister Manohar Parrikar and his visiting French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian comes 16 months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s plans to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a flyaway condition during a trip to France.
Defence Ministry sources said the Rafale, which has a range of 780-1055 km as compared to 400-450 of the Su30, will be better than the version the French use as it will have numerous India-specific additions. Moreover, the Rafale will have one and a half times greater loitering capability than the Su-30, sources said.
They added that Rafale would be able to do five missions per day as compared to three for other aircraft because of their high turnaround time.
Rafale comes equipped with state-of-the-art missile weaponry. The features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of IAF, which is currently down to 34 squadrons as against a sanctioned strength of 44, includes its Beyond Visual Range [BVR] Meteor air-to-air missile with a range of 150 km.