By Sourabh Mishra
To buy dozens of warplanes from France in a long-delayed deal will help modernize India’s aging air force. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finalized a deal with France on Friday to acquire 36 Rafale Jets to bolster aging Indian air force. India will purchase 36 Rafale jets from Paris-based Dassault Aviation SA. The deal concluded India’s long search for a new multi-role combat aircraft and years of drawn-out negotiations. This deal is worth 7.8 billion euros ($8.7 billion).
The Rafale jet deal comes as Narendra Modi attempts a $150 billion military modernization drive – buying everything from submarines to artillery. The pressure to upgrade the nation’s forces was highlighted by an attack on an army camp in Kashmir on Sunday that Indian officials have said originated in Pakistan.
These new multi-role fighter Rafale jets, which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, have advanced radar and weapons systems will give India’s air force an edge over China’s air force and Pakistan’s fleet of F-16s. India, the world’s largest importer of arms over the past five years, began its search for crucial new warplanes in 2007.
Roughly one-third of India’s 650-strong fleet is more than 40 years old and are set to be phased out over the next decade. At present, Indian air force has only 25 active squadrons, compared to the 45 squadrons it estimates would be required to defend against a joint attack from Pakistan and China.
India originally wanted to buy 126 aircraft from Dassault – at $11 billion, the world’s biggest fighter jet deal at the time.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to turn India into a global arms exporter under his “Make in India” program to boost domestic manufacturing, but India has been forced to look internationally for much of its defense requirements.