Technocommercial Negotiations On RafaleM, Scorpene Projects Yet To Be Firmed Up: Sources

Technocommercial Negotiations On RafaleM, Scorpene Projects Yet To Be Firmed Up: Sources

Negotiations on the cost and technical-commercial details of India's proposed purchase of 26 Rafale-M fighter jets and three Scorpene submarines from France are yet to be finalised, sources said on Tuesday. Indian shipbuilder Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) and France's leading naval defense group confirmed a framework agreement for the Scorpene submarine project on July 6, but talks on price and other technical details have not yet been finalized, they said.

For the purchase of the Rafale-M, the naval variant of the aircraft, sources say the deal will be signed after the completion of technical and commercial negotiations. Overall expansion of defense cooperation between India and France, especially for joint development and joint production of key military platforms, was one of the outcomes of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Regarding the parties' decision to jointly develop the fighter engine with French defense major Safran in India, sources said it would be based on the requirements of the Indian armed forces. While the existing GE Aerospace F-414 engines will be co-produced in India, the engine that Safran has co-designed and developed will depend on India's requirements, they said, noting that it will be an entirely new engine.

During Modi's visit to Washington last month, GE Aerospace's agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture fighter engines for the Indian Air Force was announced. "There is a difference between the two projects," one of the sources said, noting that the Indo-French jet engine development program is much larger than the F414 engine program.

Dassault Aviation, the largest French aerospace company and maker of Rafale jets, said last week that the Indian government had announced the selection of the naval variant of the aircraft to equip the Indian Navy with state-of-the-art aircraft. The Defense Procurement Board, headed by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, on July 13 approved the purchase of 26 Rafale-M submarines and three Scorpenes from France. July 14 after talks between Prime Minister Modi and French President Macron.

A draft document published last night by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) referred to the agreement for the purchase of three Scorpene submarines. However, this snippet did not appear in the updated version. People in the know say the joint document posted on the ministry's website has been agreed by both countries and the same text can be found on the French website. They said it appeared a preliminary text of the talks had been briefly uploaded to the ministry's website. It was not a coherent text at all, one of the people said. One of the sources said: "Technical-commercial details and price negotiations are not complete."

As part of the Indian Navy's Project 75, Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) in collaboration with Naval Group of France has already built six Scorpene submarines in India. MDL will also build three additional submarines in India. Talks between Prime Minister Modi and French President Macron focused on "game-changing" defense cooperation in advanced aerospace technology supporting the joint development of a fighter jet engine, according to the Horizon 2047 document.

"In keeping with their excellent cooperation in military aviation for five decades, India and France welcome the timely delivery of the 36 Rafales ordered by India," he said. "In the future, India and France will further their pioneering defense cooperation in advanced aerospace technologies by supporting the joint development of fighter jet engines," he added.

The two sides are also said to be in favor of industrial cooperation to provide heavy helicopters under the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) program with the Safran helicopter engine. To ensure the development of the IMRH programme, a joint venture agreement has been entered into between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India and Safran Helicopter Engine, France for engine development,” he said.

The joint document said that India and France welcome the success of the first Scorpene submarine construction program (P75 - Kalvari), a Make in India model, and the exchange of maritime experience between the companies of the two countries. "India and France are willing to explore more ambitious projects to develop India's submarine fleet and its performance," he said.


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