New Delhi: As French foreign minister Laurent Fabius continued his push for the multi-billion-dollar deal with India for 126 Rafale fighters at the highest levels of the Indian government, meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday, there are indications New Delhi is studying several options, including scaling down the proposed order from 126 to 80 aircraft.
Speculation is rife this could be an option given the likely cost escalation due to delays. The protracted contract negotiation with Dassault has been continuing over two years after it was declared the lowest (financial) bidder in January 2012.
French defence industry insiders, however, say they aren’t aware of any move by India so far to scale down the proposed order.
As per the global tender issued by India way back in 2007, 18 of the 126 aircraft are to be supplied directly by the manufacturer in ‘fly-away’ condition while the rest of the 108 aircraft will be manufactured in India after transfer of technology from the manufacturer.
In case of acquisition of 126 aircraft, the possible overall cost of the deal could even work out to about US$ 18 billion. Another concern for India is that there must be the latest technological upgrades on the aircraft in case the deal is clinched. France wants the deal inked quickly.