Modi on Shopping Spree for Military Gear in Paris

Invited as the Chief Guest for the French National Day on 14th of July 2023, Indian President Modi confirmed interest in procuring 26 Rafale fighter jets and 3 Scorpene submarines.

For the occasion, a tri-service Indian contingent participated in the parade to commemorate Bastille Day. Macron was particularly keen to point out to Modi the Rafale jets taking part in the aerial ballet.

The planes will be of the navy variant, denoted as Rafale-M, and are earmarked for operation on an aircraft carrier. The order from Dassault Aviation will include four twin-seater trainer jets. In the case of the submarine deal, the equipment will be built at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders in India in collaboration with France’s Naval Group.

Scorpene Submarine Commissioned at Mazagon Dock

The defense deal is estimated to be worth about USD 10 billion (INR 800 billion) but final ticket price is subject to negotiations. For the financial year 2023-2024, the Government of India approved a 13% increase in defense budget.

According to the Indian Defense Acquistion Council (DAC), the American Boeing F18 Super Hornet was pitted against the French Rafale. In tests, the Rafale was deemed to have a better ‘fit for purpose’ than the Super Hornet and thus the Council recommended the French jets.

Rafale Fighter Jet Taking Off from Aircraft Carrier

Traditionally, Russia was the main military supplier to India. However, due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, procurement from and maintenance by Russia have proved challenging. Therefore, India has had to promptly recalibrate its policy to diversify its sources for military gear.

The Rafale are slated to replace the ageing Russian MiG-29 which will be phased out as the new jets gets delivered. The marine versions of the Rafale are destined for the Indian aircraft carriers, INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant. It is worth noting that Indian Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is currently developing its indigenous jet fighter dubbed the Twin Engine Deck-Based Fighter (TEDBF).

Currently, India has 16 conventional submarines in operation. This includes 16 Russian Kilo submarines, 4 German HDW submarines and 5 French Scorpene submarines. India plans to upgrade and retrofit the Russian and German submarines to extend their service time by 10 to 15 years.

The Scorpene-class submarine is a conventional platform propelled by diesel-electric engines. The new submarines are expected to be fitted with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) based on Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell (PAFC) technology.

In 2005, India signed a contract for 6 such submarines to the tune of USD 3.8 billion (INR 300 billion) to be built at Mazagon along with a transfer of technology clause. The additional purchase will go to reinforce Mazagon capabilities in submarine building.

Both India and France are proponents and practitioners of ‘ #StrategicAutonomy ‘. In view of the rise of China and its incursions into the Indian Ocean, both countries believe the strengthening of Indian military capabilities will contribute to the ‘stability in the #IndoPacific.’