India has told Dassault Aviation it wants to firm up an order for 36 Rafale fighters to be delivered as soon as possible. The long-awaited agreement was confirmed by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting in Paris today with his French counterpart François Hollande.
Following wide-ranging talks between the leaders, France agreed to invest approximately €2 billion ($2.2 billion) to help India develop information technology for so-called “smart cities” and a new high speed rail line. The requirements of Modi’s “Make in India” policy will apparently be met by work that Dassault is to give state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for the upgrade of Mirage 2000 warplanes for the country’s air force.
“Just as we are delivering the first upgraded Mirage 2000, I am delighted by the decision of the Indian authorities, which gives new impetus to our partnership for the next decades and comes within the scope of the strategic relationship gathering France and India,” said Dassault chairman and CEO Eric Trappier.
India and France have been negotiating for more than three years to confirm a contract for the Rafale, which has been pre-selected as India’s new medium multi-role combat aircraft. Confirmation of the India order represents a major breakthrough for Dassault, following on from the surprise announcement in February that Egypt is buying 24 Rafales. A precise timeline for deliveries to India has yet to be confirmed.
Modi also visited the Airbus factory in Toulouse, where he met with Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders and other members of the executive committee. In a press statement, Enders said that Airbus supports the “Make in India” campaign and is ready to increase the contribution of Indian companies to its programs. In 2014, Airbus procured over $400 million worth of goods and services from some 40 Indian companies.
The Airbus Defense and Space division has submitted a joint proposal with the Tata group to produce the C295 military transport. Airbus also has plans to develop and manufacture electronic sensors with a partner in India and has been in discussion with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd about supporting its combat aircraft programs.