New Delhi: Dassault Aviation chief, Charles Edelstenne, has offered to supply 40 new generation Rafale fighters to New Delhi on a fast track basis. He has been quoted as saying that the order would help the Indian Air Force maintain its combat edge.
Charles Edelstenne, scion of the Dassault family, is the chairman and chief executive officer of Dassault Aviation, an iconic French military and civil aerospace company, which is the maker of the famed Mirage family of fighter jets. Dassault has also designed and produced the next generation Rafale fighter, which is the main air strike platform for the French Armée de l'Air, and also the Aeronavale (French Naval Air Service).
Edelstenne said that Rafale fighters could be an interim sale to India as New Delhi begins scrutinising the RFPs issued earlier for the acquisition of 126 medium range multi-role combat aircraft for a deal estimated to eventually cost upwards of $11 billion.
"We know the Indian Air Force, with which we have decades-long close association, is facing force depletion. So we are ready to supply 40 Rafales, the world's first omni-role fighters to India, in a short span of time," Edelstenne said.
"We estimate delays in procurements of these 126 fighters. So we are offering the Rafale fighters as interim arrangement", he said.
Though the Indian Government has already cleared a contract for the purchase of 40 additional Russian–built SU-30MKI fighters to maintain an effective air combat strength, they have lately become a suspect source of supply as critical defence contracts begin to run into mysterious delays. This, in spite of the fact that advance payments are made as a matter of course.
The Indian Air Force has been extremely pleased with the performance of the Mirage 2000 fleet and earlier would have opted for the Mirage and Rafale in place of the Sukhoi MKI had it not been for the price factor, which ultimately swung the game in favour of the Russians.
The French systems traditionally tend to be pricey, but with offsets now set to become the norm this is a handicap that French defence manufacturers may finally begin to surmount.