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.
With 126 fighters up for purchase, with six different contenders, it goes without saying that the MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) competition was fierce.  The Rafale was considered alongside the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed F-16IN Fighting Falcon, Boeing F-18E Super Hornet, Saab JAS-39E Gripen NG, and the Mikoyan MiG-35.  Selection of the Rafale was based on capability, price, and the usual industrial benefits.  Its similarities to the Indian Air Force's (IAF) current Mirage 2000 was likely seen a plus, as was its potential compatibility with India's upcoming INS Vishal aircraft carrier.

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.


  1. Hi!
    I'm also finding time VERY long about this one, but that could unfortunately be only the beginning. There is a complex negotiation process including negotiation of industrial partnerships between indo-french companies to "implement" the 50% offset requirement. And afterwards, there is still the formal acceptance of the deal by several ministries (e.g. at least a six month additionnal delay). That's undoubtedly more than expected by the French Rafale team which is probably waiting this first export order to, finally, have a foreign customer to back their other bids. Here are the facts.

    The bad news is : there are general elections incoming in India (may 2014), so clinching the deal seems now very unlikely before the end of 2014 (not 2013, 2014). Maybe industrial and cost negotiation can be finished before the end of the year, but political decision will very likely wait the election.

    About rumors reported in medias, I remain suspicious. The claim of "poor performance in Lybia" seems very doubtful to me : Rafale has now proved several times that it is able to perform various strike missions with at least comparable performance compared to competitors. Some observators accused Rafale to be only a bomber, it would be a shame if it wasn't able to do that! Hence this quite unfair accusation casts a shadow over the other claims.

    At the end of the day, we're still at square one : no firm order. A french aerospace magazine (Air & Cosmos) recently reported that industry now consider two hypothesis for deal signature : mid-2014 or mid-2015. And until then, anything could happen, especially the worst. After Morroco, Brazil and UAE, is the nightmare continuing? Another almost-deal? (yeah, India isn't in fact the first potential buyer...)

    But today, fighter jet deals are difficult for every one (except U.S.A...)...

  2. Also...India is not China...They have serious problems with the quality and maturity of tech on many levels. The Indigenous Tejas light multirole fighter is the twin sister to the F-35, but only when it comes to budget overruns, IOC delays and failures to
    reach its specifications. HAL license built 657 MiG-21FL, MiG-21M and MiG-21bis
    (of which 225 were bis) However, the plane has been plagued by safety problems.
    Since 1970 more than 170 Indian pilots and 40 civilians have been killed in
    MiG-21 accidents. At least 14 MiG-21s had crashed between 2010 and 2013.
    So for Dassault to guarantee the quality on a Rafale built by HAL in India with locally produced component is not a small undertaking. I think all fighter jet designers (save the Ruskis ?) should develop severe nightmares if they ever signed on that.
    Further, India has also been hit by the global economic meltdown, and to make
    matters worse, all Indians LOVE gold, so they each stack up on it in bad times, but
    gold needs to be bought from abroad and paid for by USD, and money invested in
    gold do not work as the money saved in a bank account would….So the Indian
    currency has been….in question for a while (getting better right now, hope it
    will last) but a low Rupee rate makes for either fewer Rafales or a massive
    increase in the MRCA budget, but there are lots of other military purchases
    going on in India right now…So…Sigh...Basically the whole thing is in a mess.

    Late 2014 sounds plausibel. If ever.

  3. contact including transfert technologie would take 10 years of negociation, you dont sell car, but weapon and technologie, for what i know, indian partner are currently evaluated with design work package managed by dassault, factory assembly is currently building for 800M$, indian partner ship company are made with thales and
    dassault create child company in india, but negociation about transfert technology take long time, Dassault refuse to get the responsability of not respecting delay make by HAL, because it know hal, that all. they cant back, because that would take 5 year more to do with other choice, since 2006, they was made evaluated, mig 35, gripen ejected failing or feature missing , F18 fail, F16 no future and its sell in pakistan by USA and China sell JF17, eurofighter, its not multirole, no aesa, no nuke strike, no war electronic, no cas, no antiship, no cruise missile,
    no navy, confirmed by libya opex, it was ridiculous, rest rafale, it seem good adapted for india if they need a good multirole for figth .
    The SU30 is good jet, eurofighter level with more multirole case, but face to rafale, i give no chance. to big, to heavy, bad rcs, but i like it. same for SU35. wait 15 years for T50 when mature for operation.
    Negociation are started for russian missile integration, for save money in case.

    face to china it is enought. i know everything about the case. With the crisis, indian currency is in bad state, budget defense also. for the moment, that work fine,
    strange, the man key was dead in negociation phase, :-)
    Many contract in space, navy, satellite are done for partner ship with France/India
    I work with india. i know well.


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