Deal on Rafale combat aircraft may get delayed
New Delhi: The country's biggest defence deal for procuring 126 Rafale combat aircraft is expected to get delayed with differences surfacing between India and French firm Dassault Aviation over certain contractual obligations.
Dassault has demanded two separate contracts to be signed for the deal which includes one for the 18 aircraft to be built by the firm in France and the other for the 108 aircraft which are to be integrated in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
The French firm had informed the Defence Ministry that it would supply the required equipment to India after which it would not have any role to play in the deal.
The Ministry is not in agreement with this demand and has conveyed this to Dassault. All these aspects are clearly stated in the RFP document and deviations from it are not possible, sources said here.
The issue is also learnt to have come up for discussion during the contract negotiation committee meeting between the two sides here.
The base price for the deal was USD 10 billion and contractual negotiations are underway to determine the final amount to be paid by India for the aircraft.
Soon after the Rafale fighter jet was shortlisted by the IAF in 2012, Dassault Aviation has been raising questions about the capabilities and the role of HAL in the contract for 126 Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA).
The Defence Ministry had earlier also rejected Dassault's demand for making it the lead integrator for the 108 aircraft to be produced in India as the RFP for the tender has specifically given that responsibility to the HAL.
Recently, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier had stated that HAL would be its main partner in the contract and there was no confusion on the issue. Dassault has also signed an MoU with the Reliance Industries Limited.
Rafale had edged out five other aircraft including American F-16 and F-18, Russian MiG 35 and European Eurofighter to bag the contract.