With the deal for 36 Rafale jets in kitty, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier today said the French company is game for the ‘Make in India’ initiative and open to manufacturing the fighter aircraft in India if the plane is shortlisted for a bigger order.
He said that with the Indian contract going through, the company feels that more international orders of the plane, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, will come in.
“It is 36 at the moment. We feel that we can create a strong industrial partnership in India. We know very well the large number of aircraft that the IAF needs,” Trappier said in an interview to PTI here.
He said that Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of the Rafale jets, is committed to the Make in India initiative.
“Yes, of course. We will see how we can carry forward with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. We are open to manufacturing Rafales in India,” Trappier said when asked if the French firm was willing to manufacture the fighter aircraft in India if the plane was shortlisted for a bigger order.
The CEO said the company will work with the IAF and the government to see how they can meet India’s needs.
He said the focus was to build an industrial partnership in India for Rafale jets and the 50 per cent offset clause will be of help.
Defence sources have made it clear that the deal for 36 Rafale jets does not come with an option clause. This means that more orders will come only through fresh talks.
India had originally wanted 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft for which Rafale was shortlisted.
However, due to the delay over cost and other issues, the Narendra Modi government decided to go for 36 Rafale jets in fly away condition.
With India reducing the number, a multi-billion-dollar aircraft contract is still in play.
This has led to fresh pitches from those who lost out on the first deal including Boeing, Saab and Lockheed Martin.
The sources have said India is looking at shortlisting one more aircraft, besides Tejas, to be manufactured domestically.
Dassault Aviation hopes that Rafale, a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base, makes the cut.
The fully versatile Rafale is able to carry out all combat aviation missions — air defence, interception, ground support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006. In 2015, Egypt and Qatar ordered 24 Rafales each. As of June 30 this year, 152 Rafale aircraft had been delivered.