Dassault says it will “go step by step” to securing further Rafale orders from India after prime minister Narendra Modi signed an agreement on 25 January with his French counterpart to purchase 36 of the type.

During a state visit by president Francois Hollande, the French and Indian governments signed an intergovernmental agreement which “paves the way” for the conclusion of a contract, and Dassault says it is working with Paris to finalise it within four weeks.

Speaking to Flightglobal on 20 January – ahead of Hollande’s visit to India this week – Dassault Aviation chief executive Eric Trappier said the company would work with the customer to add to the order.

Four years ago, New Delhi selected the Rafale for its $20 billion, 126-aircraft Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirement, but in August cancelled the doomed programme after announcing it was likely to only place an order for 36 fighters.

The acquisition of the 36 aircraft is now set to go ahead, although financial issues relating to the new agreement need to be agreed, which "must be resolved as soon as possible", a joint government statement says.

Under the agreement, Dassault will supply French-built aircraft in “flyaway” condition, although Trappier acknowledges selling further fighters will require the formal involvement of Indian industry in their production, thought to be a stumbling block to securing a larger initial deal.

“We worked to get [an order for] 126, but it took time as we had to license HAL [Hindustan Aeronautics]. It looks like the [Indian] government has decided to go faster, with 36 to fly away,” says Trappier.

He adds Dassault does not have “concerns” about the ability of potential industrial partners to participate in the Rafale programme, but says “it will take time for India to reach that competence”. Also, “their industry is very busy [with other military projects]”, he adds.

“If they order more we will have to create more jobs in India.”

Rafale - Dassault


A sale to India would mark the third export contract for the Rafale, following deals last year with Egypt and Qatar, each for 24 aircraft.

Trappier is also confident of securing business from Canada, whose new government is threatening to pull out of its commitment to the Lockheed Martin F-35 with the launch of a new competition.

“Canada is interesting,” says Trappier. “We are waiting for them to launch a competition and we will be a solid candidate.”

Source: FlightGlobal.com