Additional Rafale under consideration : IAF Chief

Rafale fighter Jet

Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria Monday for the primary time officially indicated that the choice to shop for two more squadrons of Rafale fighter jets is into accoun

He, however, made it clear that the IAF was currently that specialize in the order to be issued soon for 83 Light Combat Tejas Mark 1A. “At the instant , we are concentrating on 83 LCA Mk 1A. After that, the follow-up planned is MRFA (multi-role fighter aircraft), which is ‘Make in India’ and therefore the other line is on LCA versions, and Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA),” said the IAF chief while addressing the media during his annual news conference

“In terms of whether we enter for more Rafale or MRFA, it'll be an open competition because it is currently planned. We have received the RFI (Request for Information) responses. So this complete subject is under discussion and debate. As and when this situation and the picture becomes clear and we finalise the way forward, we will share with you,” he added. 

Asked by ThePrint on what the IAF favours because the next lot of Rafale aircraft are going to be cheaper than the 36 jets bought in 2016 which logistics are already in situ to cater to 2 more squadrons, the IAF chief said the difficulty is “on the table in terms of taking a final call”. 

“I can’t discuss that question and answer before we take a final judgment . This is a subject, which is under discussion. The current status is that we've received all of the RFI (Request for Information sent out for 114 MFRA) responses. All these issues are on the table in terms of taking a final call. As and when we decide, we will then tell you,” he said. 

“There is not any point in saying due to this (next lot are going to be cheaper and logistics in place) allow us to do that . There are various issues to be considered. All these facts are there. As soon as we take it, we will tell you”. 

Rafale procurement 

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat had in February said the govt will enter for staggered purchase of fighter jets, which was seen as a plus to Rafale. 

As reported by ThePrint, there's a thinking within the govt that India should enter for 2 additional squadrons of the Rafale fighter jets besides better versions of the indigenous LCA Tejas and AMCA. 

This was because an outsized component of the €1,700 million purchased India Specific Enhancements in Rafale will come down because the majority of the value was for Research and Development, modification and certification. 

The cost of fixing the bottom and training also will come down since India had purchased fixing two bases for just 36 aircraft. These bases can easily accommodate more squadrons of the aircraft without additional cost. 

Also, future Rafale fighter jets will accompany no offsets under the new policy of the govt , thereby bringing down the value further. 

36 Rafale jets to be operationalised 

by 2023 Meanwhile, the IAF chief said that the 36 Rafale fighter jets are going to be operationalised completely by 2023. 

While the IAF has operationally inducted 5 such French fighters, a further 3-4 jets will come by end of this month or early November. “This will keep happening every 3-4 months,” he said. 

The IAF chief also said integration of Rafale brings during a platform, which is that the way ahead and would give the force a foothold and capability to strike first and deep.

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