India’s defense ministry has given preliminary approval to purchase 26 Rafale fighter jets for its navy and three Scorpene class submarines ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in France, according to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Modi is on his way to strengthening ties with New Delhi’s longest strategic partner in the West, with a flurry of high-profile defense transactions and a new collaborative plan to secure Indo-Pacific security.
The Singh-led Defence Acquisition Council, the apex body for military capital procurements, granted the approvals on Thursday.
The deal will be for the purchase of 26 Dassault Aviation (AM.PA) Rafale fighter jets, including four trainers, and for three Scorpene class submarines to be made by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MAZG.NS) with France’s Naval Group, two sources familiar with the details told Reuters.
The ageing fleet of India’s Russian-made platforms, Moscow’s inability to perform maintenance work, and delays in India’s indigenous manufacturing plans for parallel platforms have necessitated the two new defence deals.
The marine version of Dassualt’s Rafale jets, intended for India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier commissioned last year, outperformed the American Superhornet F18s in tests last year for Indian requirements.
Details on the deal value are not known yet.
Singh said in a tweet that the “price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French Government after taking into account all relevant aspects, including comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries”.
India has relied on French fighter jets for four decades now. Much before buying Rafale in 2015, India bought Mirage jets in 1980s, which still comprise two squadrons of the air force.
In 2005, India bought six Scorpene-class diesel submarines from France for 188 billion rupees ($2.29 billion), the last of which will be commissioned next year.