Let’s Talk About the Backstory Here

When Dassault won the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract, it wanted to partner with Reliance Industries, but the Indian Government insisted on local co-production be conducted by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the company that took over 30 years to deliver the massively under-performing Tejas fighter aircraft.

When Dassault saw the level of technical competence at HAL, they refused to work with them, figuring that it would be a complete horror show, and they would be on the hook for this, so now we have India signing a deal for 36 French made fighters:

India has concluded a deal to acquire 36 Dassault Rafale fighters, with a contract signed in New Delhi by the nation’s defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on 23 September.

The deal is worth €7.75 billion ($8.69 billion) for the French-built aircraft along with associated weapons and a support package.

Finalisation of the contract brings to a close a long-running acquisition process to equip the Indian air force with the Rafale, which was selected as the winner of its medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender in 2012, defeating the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon. Other previous candidates for the deal included the Lockheed Martin F-16, RAC MiG-35 and Saab Gripen.

The air force was originally slated to acquire 126 aircraft via the programme, but the original deal ran aground over cost concerns. [Cost concerns my ass. Dassault found HAL incapable of executing a co-production deal] It was revived by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France in 2105, when he declared that 36 aircraft would be acquired in “fly-away” condition from Dassault. This was keeping in view the “critical operational necessity” of the service, he said at the time.

This was the Rafale’s first foreign sale, and it was a very big deal for Dassault, but they could not get co-production to work, but the fact that they had this order made it a viable choice on other foreign markets, which is why there are sales to Egypt and Qatar as well, so the deal, even if much diminished was a lifesaver for the Rafale production line.

The ineptitude of the Indian defense establishment in developing new systems (see the Tejas, the Arjun tank, the INSAS rifle system, etc.) remains staggering.

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