Indian Navy has received price bids from the French counterpart for 26 Rafale Jets and 3 Scorpene class Submarines. Just ahead of the announcement of French President Emanuel Macron coming to India as a Chief Guest for the Republic Day program, this news has broken the ground.
The acquisition of the Rafale (M) fighters for the Indian Navy is being processed through the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) just as the fighters for the Indian Air Force were procured. According to reports, during the visit of Prime Minister Modi to France earlier this year, a follow -on order for three `Scorpene’ class submarines were mentioned in the joint statement.
The French Naval Group and Mumbai based Mazagon Dockyard Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) who have already built `Scorpene’ class submarines under Project 75 for the Indian Navy, will work on the follow-on of three more submarines of the similar class.
Reports in the public domain indicate that the Ministry of Defence has already set up a committee which is expected to work on the benchmark price for the submarine deal.
Background of how Indian Forces ordered the jets and subs
Ahead of the PM’s visit to Paris, the Defence Acquisition Council, headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, had approved the necessity of acquiring 26 Rafale-M fighters and three additional Scorpene-class submarines from France.
According to the reports, the Rafale deal comprises 22 single-seater Rafale-M fighters and four twin-seater Rafale trainers.
These 26 jets aim to bridge the numerical gap until the indigenous Twin Engine Deck-Based Fighter, still in development, becomes operational. The Navy presently operates two aircraft carriers: the INS Vikramaditya from Russia and the indigenously built INS Vikrant commissioned in September 2022.
According to the reports, both contracts are expected to be concluded by the end of 2024, with submarine deliveries likely commencing in 2031.
More about the Rafale-M for the Indian Navy
Earlier this week, France has submitted a Letter of Acceptance in response to India’s Request for 26 fighter jets for the two aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy. In the letter the pricing for the 26 fighters as well other details have been shared.
Mumbai based MDL earlier this month has given its commercial offer for the follow-on order for three `Scorpene’ class submarines. After the internal benchmarking is complete the commercial bid submitted by MDL will be opened.
How did the Indian Navy procure Rafale-M Jets?
Following the receipt of the bid, the process of getting 26 fighter jets for the Indian Navy has already started. However, there is no clarity if a costing committee will be set up.
It has been reported that after taking into consideration all the relevant aspects, the terms of purchase as well as price will be negotiated between the Indian and French governments. The MoD has said previously that this will also include the “comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries.
More about Indian Navy’s follow-on order on Scorpene Subs
Distinguishing features in the new submarines include their integrated combat system (ICS), which will now be indigenous, featuring solutions from Bharat Electronics Limited (BHEL) in collaboration with French suppliers. This ICS constitutes a substantial part of the overall deal value.
The new Scorpene submarines are expected to replace their existing 1,250KW MAN diesel engines with Rolls Royce MTU 4000 series engines, assembled in India through a partnership with Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Limited, Kolkata.
A Defence Ministry statement mentioned that the additional submarines will have higher indigenous content and will be equipped with an air independent propulsion (AIP) system.
This AIP, which has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), will help to enhance the endurance of the subs.
Indian Navy’s six Scorpene Subs are operational
Regarding existing submarines, India had procured six Scorpene-class submarines from the Naval Group in a deal signed in October 2005. They were manufactured by MDL through technology transfer. The Navy plans to install DRDO-developed AIP modules during refits of existing Scorpenes, starting with INS Kalvari, likely by the end of next year.
To support this initiative, the Naval Group is currently assisting the DRDO in qualifying indigenous suppliers of liquid oxygen tanks and involving integrating the AIP safely, cutting the submarine, and joining it with the new AIP section.