Blog AnalysisAviation

The Rafale takes off for export, finally! (Shift3)

A Rafale during Operation Harmattan in Libya (credit: French Ministry of Defense / DICOD)

(BRUSSELS2) An orange, white and green roundel will soon adorn Dassault planes. And this one will be able to boast of a choice catch. It should, in fact, provide 126 Rafale aircraft to the Indian fighter jet; the Indian Armed Forces confirmed this today (January 31).

The French aircraft manufacturer has just won the mega market awarded to one of the countries with one of the biggest growths in arms. All for a stated cost of $10,4 billion. This is a double success for Dassault: first at the economic level which will enable its factories to be provided with a workload plan for several years, but also at the political level. For an aircraft that had never managed to sell an aircraft for export, opening such a door is a way out of isolation.

The Indian Air Force had selected six aircraft in a first round: the Russian Mig 35, the American F-16 and F-18 (one manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the other by Boeing), the Swedish Gripen (from Saab), the EuroFighter Typhoon (from Eads) and the Rafale. Only these last two planes were retained in the last round. 18 aircraft will be purchased directly, the following (108) will be manufactured on site in partnership with an Indian manufacturer (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited HAL).

technology transfers

India is an old buyer of “Made in France” since it has already equipped itself with Mirage 2000 (but also with Mig aircraft, made in Russia, and Jaguar, resulting from Franco-British cooperation). An argument that certainly worked. As is the Air Force's preference for this aircraft. But not only. Apparently Dassault made a sufficiently interesting offer, lower than its European competitor, Eurofighter, by $4 to $5 million, as reported by the Indian economic daily Economic Times. And above all, he agreed to the essential technology transfers which will also allow India to manufacture an “Indian Rafale” and preserve its defense industry.

A contract yet to be concluded

* A choice which the Elysée quickly welcomed. “ The Rafale was selected thanks to the competitiveness of its overall cost over the lifespan of the aircraft, after a pre-selection in April 2011 on the basis of its leading operational qualities. (…) The completion of the Rafale project will illustrate the depth and breadth of the strategic partnership between France and India. » Let's be careful though. Because everything is not yet finalized. The negotiation of the contract will begin “ very soon with the full support of the French authorities. It will include significant transfers of technology guaranteed by the French State” is it confirmed

The elimination of American planes is also due to the fact that the old enemy, and neighboring Pakistan, mainly supplies itself with planes “made in the USA”; therefore for the Indians it was not a guarantee of security of supply. It remains to be hoped that this call for tenders will not be contested or canceled as has been the case on several occasions in contracts awarded by the Indian authorities, particularly in the area of ​​aviation.

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(Update with declarations from the Elysée and a small remark) A dated site? We can notice that the Dassault group website remains incomparably discreet on the Rafale aircraft. Even today, it displays on its first page dedicated to its “aviation” subsidiary, a photo of Mirage in formation and Rafale (even the “best” get caught in it :-)…). This is not an extraordinary demonstration of confidence in the new aircraft. A paradox when it is explained a few lines above that the company is “ always at the forefront of the most innovative solutions ". Not his website apparently.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

3 thoughts on “The Rafale takes off for export, finally! (Shift3)"

  • A fair return for a very efficient product



    I rub my eyes: Information to be seriously cross-checked…

    What exactly are the terms of the contract?
    – How many planes built in France and… how many on the Indian subcontinent?

    • Nicolas Gros Verheyde

      mentioned in article 18 in France, 108 in India…

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