The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) , in a meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on Thursday approved proposals to procure 26 Rafale-Marine fighter jets and three Scorpene diesel-electric submarines for the Indian Navy.
The DAC granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of 26 Rafale-Marine fighter jets along with associated ancillary equipment, weapons, simulator, spares, documentation, crew training and logistic support for the Indian Navy from the French government through an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA).
The ministry said that the price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French government after taking into account all relevant aspects, including comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries. Further, integration of Indian designed equipments and establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Hub for various systems will be incorporated into the contract documents after due negotiations.
Further the DAC also granted the AoN for procurement of three additional Scorpene submarines under Buy (Indian) category which will be built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL).
The procurement of additional submarines, with higher indigenous content, will not only help in maintaining required force level and operational readiness of the Indian Navy, but also create significant employment opportunities in the domestic sector. It will also help the MDL in further enhancing its capability and expertise in submarine construction, an official of the Defence Ministry said.
According to the ministry, the DAC approved the proposal to lay down guidelines for achieving the desired indigenous content in all categories of capital acquisition cases. It will help in achieving ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in critical manufacturing technologies and life-cycle sustenance of defence platforms and equipment through indigenous manufacturing.
Earlier, the proposals were discussed during high-level meetings at the ministry, following which they were place before the Council headed by the Union Defence Minister.
Last year, the naval version of Rafale fighter jets from France and American F/A-18 Super Hornet had both demonstrated their operational capabilities.
An agreement for the purchase is likely to be signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day (July 13-14) visit to France, where he will be the guest of honour at the Bastille Day parade on Friday.
The Bastille Day, which is also France’s National Day marks the anniversary of storming of the Bastille in 1789 during the French Revolution.
According to defence experts, there is an urgent requirement for aircraft and submarines, as the Indian Navy has been facing shortages and needs to shore up its requirements keeping in mind security challenges, especially in the Indian Ocean region.
Aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant have been operating the MiG-29s and need the Rafales for operations on both carriers.
The deals are estimated to be worth over Rs 90,000 crore but the final cost will only be clear only after the contract negotiations are completed, a source added.
The country is likely to seek some concession in the price and may also insist on greater focus on a ‘Make In India’ content in it, an informed official said.
Meanwhile, India is also planning to buy Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for the tri-services from the US.
The DAC on June 15 accorded the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for acquisition of 31 MQ-9B (16 Sky Guardian and 15 Sea Guardian) High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for Tri-Services from the US through Foreign Military Sale (FMS) route.