Updated December 21st, 2023 at 08:30 IST
Indo-French negotiations commence as France submits response for 26 Rafale-M naval jets
Indian Navy prioritizes swift finalization for timely induction, enhancing maritime capabilities in the Indian Ocean.
In a significant development, France has officially submitted its response to India's tender for the procurement of 26 Rafale Marine jets destined for the Indian Navy's aircraft carriers, INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya. French defence sources confirmed the submission of the response in New Delhi, marking a crucial step in the ongoing negotiations between the two nations.
A delegation of French government officials, specializing in military sales to foreign countries, arrived in New Delhi to deliver the response. This move underscores the importance of the deal, as it involves the sale of advanced fighter jets designed specifically for naval operations. India will now meticulously review the French bid, evaluating various aspects, including the commercial offer and contract details.
Indian Navy eyeing swift finalization
As the deal is structured as a government-to-government contract, the negotiation phase will commence between Indian and French government officials. The Navy Chief has emphasized expediting the project timeline to ensure swift finalization and the timely induction of the Rafale Marine jets into the Indian Navy's inventory.
Over a month ago, India had issued a Letter of Request (LoR) to the French government, outlining specific requirements and capabilities desired for the Rafale Marine aircraft. The Indian Navy and government are actively working to streamline the acquisition process, aiming for the earliest possible signing of the contract. The induction of these advanced aircraft is viewed as a strategic imperative to bolster India's naval capabilities in the Indian Ocean region.
Fast-track acquisition strategy
The deal, valued at approximately Euro 5.5 billion, received approval from the Defence Acquisition Council just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France. This occurred during his participation as the state guest for the Bastille Day parade in July this year.
The proposed agreement entails the procurement of 22 single-seater Rafale Marine aircraft and four trainer aircraft, solidifying India's commitment to enhancing its naval aviation capabilities.
The Rafale-M is a versatile twin-engine, single-seat aircraft designed for various missions, including 'quick reaction alert,' air defence, air policing, air support for ground forces, and reconnaissance.
This strategic acquisition is poised to contribute significantly to India's naval strength, reinforcing its position as a dominant maritime player in the region. The forthcoming negotiations are expected to shape the final contours of the deal, paving the way for the induction of these cutting-edge aircraft into the Indian Navy's fleet.
Published December 21st, 2023 at 08:30 IST