Is India backing out of the Rafale?
On January 31, 2013, Dassault must have been happy. It had scored a huge victory when it became selected as the winner of India MMRCA program. Not only was this Dassault's first foreign sale for the Rafale, but its jet came out victorious against some very impressive competition.
|From left to right: Rafale, Typhoon, F-16IN, F-18E, Gripen, and MiG-35.|
So what has happened since then?
In a word, delays.
But the truth is much more complicated and messy than that. Both sides have starting slinging mud at each other. Some in India have accused Dassault of "manipulating" the selection process. Questions about its performance in Libya have been asked (despite the Rafale being seen as quite successful in that campaign). Dassault has slung right back, stating it would not be able to accept responsibility for the 108 Rafales scheduled to be built by India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Whether this mudslinging is a case of both sides negotiating a better deal is hard to tell, but relations seem strained considering the relationship is at its beginning stages.
|Still a contender, the Mikoyan MiG-35.|
Some have suggested that India abandon the Rafale altogether, and select the MiG-35 instead. Recent upgrades to India's MiG-29 to the MiG-29SMT standard has certainly fueled this, along with India's partnership with Russia in developing the 5th generation HAL FGFA, based on the Sukhoi PAK FA.
How the potential lost Indian sales could effect Dassault's bid for Canada's next fighter is anybody's guess. Dassault would likely be more hungry for sales, but a failed relationship with its first potential buyer is hard to see as a good sign.