India signs deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France edge over Pakistan: Today, India signed a deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets for close to 7.8 billion euros ($8.7 billion) on Friday. The long-awaited deal was inked in New Delhi between Defence minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian. The 7.8 billion euro deal is crucial for the Indian Air Force that is grappling with a draw down of its fighter fleet.
The Indian Air Force has 33 fighter squadrons, each consisting of 18 fighter planes. It requires 45 combat units to counter a combined threat from Pakistan and China. The Indian Air Force admits it does not have sufficient number of warplanes for a two-front war.
The Rafale aircraft has the capacity to strike targets in Pakistani soil even while flying within the Indian airspace.
Modi government had cleared the deal amid indications that the French government waived off the advance guarantee, allowing India to save 134 million euros.
The Central Government had initially planned to purchase 126 Rafale fighter planes but later opted for just 36 jets in fly-away condition from France with PM Modi announcing the revised deal in Paris last year.
The delivery of the jets will begin in 36 months and will be completed in 66 months from the date the contract is inked.
The fighter jets will have state-of-the-art missiles like Scalp and Meteor that will give the Indian Air Force a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal.
Rafale fighter planes will enable the air force to hit targets inside Pakistan from within India. Currently, Pakistan has only a beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile with 80-km range.
India had used a BVR having 50-km range during the Kargil War, while Pakistan had none. With Meteor, the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in the favour of India.
The price of only 36 aircraft is 3.42 billion euros. The armaments cost 710 million euros and changes specific for India will be done for 1,700 million euros. The total price also includes maintenance and spare parts.