HAL back on Rafale Radar, talks on for making jets in India

French aircraft manufacturer Dassault and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited are in talks for possible cooperation in producing Rafale fighter jets in India for additional anticipated orders under a ‘staggered procurement’ plan.

Sources have told ET that a few rounds of discussions have taken place between the companies on possible work share for additional orders of the cutting edge combat jet, though there is no going back to earlier discussions that broke down in 2012 over differences in localisation and pricing.

The two aviation companies are old partners, having worked most recently on the $2.1 billion deal to upgrade the Indian Air Force’s Mirage 2000 fleet. If additional orders are placed for Rafale — Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat hinted recently that 36 more fighter jets could be ordered within four years — a work share model could be worked out to manufacture parts for the fighter jet at HAL facilities.

At present, French manufacturers are executing the order for 36 jets and investing 50% of the €7.8 billion contract price in the Indian aerospace and defence sectors as part of the offsets clause, with a factory in partnership with Reliance Defence at Nagpur also geared to produce the Falcon executive jets.

While the contours of a possible partnership have not been finalised, sources confirmed that detailed discussions have taken place on how HAL facilities and expertise could be used for the next round of localisation when more jets are ordered.

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