According to sources in the Ministry of Defence, India has inked a deal for the supply of 24 Rafale aircrafts to the Indian Air Force(IAF). If this is correct, it is clear that India is testing waters, so far as a full-fledged tie-up with Dassault is concerned. The French Rafale was the one shortlisted among several aircrafts, including Russia's Mig-35 and the US' F-18s to fill up the vacuum that exists in the IAF today.
The IAF is in urgent need of 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircrafts (MMRCA). The consortium of Dassault Aviation, Thales and Snecma(Safran) - three leading international aerospace companies that form Rafale International - showcased the Rafale fighter aircrafts at Aero India 2015 that took place at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru recently.
"Dassault Aviation, the Rafale manufacturer, has contributed proudly to India's defence preparedness for more than 60 years. Demonstrating Rafale's capabilities in Aero India, is reaffirming Rafale International's support to India's sovereignty.We have had a long standing relationship with the Indian Air Force and industry and will continue to partner with India in meeting its strategic defence and economic needs," said Eric Trappier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Aviation .
In keeping with the Government of India's 'Make in India' slogan, the company was also quick to acknowledge the support it received from partners in India, both on the ground and in the air. Aircraft from Dassault Aviation have been an integral part of Indian defence forces for over six decades. The first Dassault Aviation aircraft, Toofani was supplied to India in 1953, followed by the Mystere IV, the naval Alize, the Jaguar (manufactured under license by HAL), and the Mirage 2000. The Jaguar and Mirage 2000 are still in service. The Rafale fighter aircraft has been shortlisted as a possible choice for IAF's MMRCA.
The Rafale is designed as a sole combat aircraft for the French Air Force and Navy. It is considered extremely powerful, agile and very discrete. It is fitted with a weapon load which can be simultaneously used for air-combat and surface-attacks during the same mission. According to Dassault, Rafale demonstrates a unique "omnirole" capability combined with an accurate tactical situation awareness.