Private Sector

Advantage Rafale? Foreign firms want clarity from IAF on ‘staggered’ purchase of fighters

Bemused by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat’s comments that India will stagger the purchase of 110 fighter jets, foreign companies are set to approach the Indian Air Force (IAF) for clarity on what happens to the mega-contract under which planes are to be built in India through a strategic partnership.

Industry sources said that a staggered purchase hands an advantage to the French firm Dassault Aviation, which already has a contract for 36 fighters.

They also said that there is no scope for actual Make in India in a staggered purchase process unless one is talking about assembling kits of some number of aircraft in the country. This is contrary to the earlier plan to manufacture them through a strategic partnership.

The Print had reported in August 2019 that there is a growing view in the government and the IAF that rather than focusing on pure numbers in terms of squadron strength, more thought should be given to the capability of the systems.

What the firms say about the CDS’ comments

The firms in contention told ThePrint that they are “confused” by the CDS’ comments.

“This is really confusing. If the CDS says there will be staggered purchase, then what happens to the Request for Proposal (RFP) for 110 fighters that we have been waiting for? Will there be any RFP,” a senior official of a foreign firm in the race for the IAF contract told ThePrint.

Another official of a different firm questioned what happens to the Make in India initiative.

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