The other shoe in Hollande’s misguided Russian Mistral cancelation may be about to drop, as India appears to be backtracking in its decision to purchase 126 Rafale jets from France’s Dassault Aviation.
After a three years effort, India’s Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, spoke of an impasse in negotiations with his French counterparts. This is a serious blow to the French aviation industry which just last month announced that the deal would be completed in the first half of 2015.
Icing on the cake…The Defence Ministry announced it is now considering buying Russian Sukhoi Su-30 MKI, which according to the Defence Ministry are ‘absolutely suitable for the needs of the Indian Air Force and half the price’ of the French made Rafales.
We are also sure India feels much more comfortable purchasing from a supplier that will not fold to US/NATO pressure on a whim.
India’s long-delayed procurement of 126 Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft has once again run into “complications”, defence minister Manohar Parrikar admitted on 30 December.
Parrikar did not specify these difficulties at a press conference in New Delhi, but tellingly stated that additional licence-built Sukhoi Su-30MKI multirole fighters would be “adequate” for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the event of the Rafale deal being scrapped.
“The Su-30MKI is an adequate aircraft for meeting the air force’s needs,” Parrikar said, adding that at INR3.58 billion (USD59.66 million) each, the unit cost of the Su-30MKIs being licence-built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was less than half that of a Rafale.
A cancellation from India on the Rafale jets could deal a crushing blow to France’s Aerospace Industry and Dassault Aviation, which would effectively lose a blockbuster deal with the Indian Air Force.
If the Rafale deal is settled with France, then Dassault will supply 18 fighters to the Indian Air Force in flyaway condition, while the remaining 108 will be licence produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
If the deal cannot overcome its current ‘complications’ then India’s fallback plan to purchase Russian Su-30MKI would be an absolute embarrassment to a weak President Hollande, and another bomb to France’s already slumping economy.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.