India signed a deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France on Friday for close to 7.8 billion euros ($8.7 billion) about Rs. 58000 crore on Friday. The long-awaited deal was inked in Delhi between defence minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian.
The deal comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros, gained through hard negotiations by the Indian side, over the one struck during the previous UPA government, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government, besides a 50 per cent offset clause.
The 50 per cent offset clause means that Indian businesses, both big and small, will gain work to the tune of over three billion Euros.
As per of the deal, 36 Rafale jets will come equipped with latest missiles and weapon system, giving the Indian Air Force (IAF) a cutting edge over arch rival Pakistan.
Also present during the signing of the deal were the chief executive officers (CEOs) of top French companies, including Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale.
The acquisition of this weapon is likely to be game changer in South Asia. Neither Pakistan nor China, India’s traditional military adversaries, possess a weapon of the same class. The first Rafale warplanes are slated to be delivered roughly within 18 months of the signing of the final contract.
The Centre had initially planned to purchase 126 fighter planes but later opted for just 36 jets in fly-away condition from France with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the revised deal in Paris last year.
Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while staying within India’s territorial boundary.
Pakistan at present has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India had used a BVR of 50 km range while Pakistan had none.
However, Pakistan later acquired 80-km-range BVR, but now with ‘Meteor’, the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India’s favour.