If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Under new President Emmanuel Macron, France will continue to beef up the Indian military arsenal with fighter jets and submarines. French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation and state-owned shipbuilder DCNS are in fact negotiating new deals with the Indian government for the sale of their Rafale multi-role aircraft and diesel-electric attack Scorpene-class submarine respectively.
Last Sunday, coinciding with Macron’s inauguration, Dassault Aviation chief executive Eric Trappier revealed to French daily Sud-Ouest that its company was talking to India about the sale of a further 57 Rafales.
Last September, Dassault Aviation secured an US$8.8 billion contract to supply the Indian Air Force with 36 Rafale jets. It is said that, once inducted, they will form two squadrons. One will be stationed in the state of Haryana, near the Pakistani border, and the other in West Bengal to face possible threats posed by China on the eastern front.
The new batch of 57 Rafale aircraft is intended for the Indian Navy, which must still develop the aviation complex for its domestically built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. The Indian government says the new flattop will be delivered in December 2018, but a national auditor reported last year that it might not be combat-ready before 2023. New Delhi has weighed other options for a new fighter platform for its aircraft-carrier force, including Sweden’s Saab Gripen, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Russia’s MiG-29K. John Matuszak JerseyShare This