Indian Rafale confusion.

On again/off again?  
The on again/off again Indian Rafale deal has finally moved on to the next chapter...  The problem is, nobody seems to know how long the book goes on for.

What was to be a order for 126 aircraft has shrunk to a mere 36.  All of those aircraft will be bought ready-to-fly from the French government.  In the original deal, 108 of the 126 Indian Rafales would be license-built in India by HAL.

Ultimately, it was those HAL-built aircraft that ended up being the sticking point.  Dassault declined responsibility of quality control for Indian-made Rafales.  This, along with other factors stalled negotiations to a full stop.

Here we go again?
Of course...  This leaves a 90-fighter sized hole in India's air force.

For now, India has "bought some time" to decide what to do next.  Do they submit a new RFP (request for proposals) and start the process over again?  Do they simply continue to negotiate for more Rafales?  Or do they simply bolster their already existing (and varied) fighter fleet types?

Perhaps it is time for the Indian Air Force to consolidate its multi-platform force.  In the past, I have promoted a mixed fighter fleet for Canada, but India takes it absurd levels.  These are the fighter aircraft India either are, or will operate in the near future.

  • Su-30MKI Flanker
  • Dassault Rafale
  • MiG-29K Fulcrum (Indian Navy)
  • MiG-29 Fulcrum
  • HAL Tejas 
  • MiG-21M "Bison" (to be replaced)
  • Mirage 2000
  • SEPECAT Jaguar
  • HAL FGFA (developed from the PAK FA)
As you can see, there is a lot of overlap.  Not only that, but the logistical challenges of maintaining eight fighter types sourced from three separate nations must be enormous.  One's mind boggles at the Indian military procurement process...  I wonder what the meeting must be like?

By comparison, Brazil's Gripen purchase seems to be running (relatively) smoothly.

So what does this mean for Canada?  Probably nothing.  Dassault will still very much like Canada to be a customer, but this shortfall does not help its case.  Also, while sales are always good, it would be far preferable if those sales were to traditional NATO countries.  

Perhaps the biggest lesson from the Indian MMRCA is that high-end fighter procurement is a messy, convoluted affair.  Politics can often get in the way of common sense.


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