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Indian government positioning for Rafale M acquisition

India's interest in acquiring a carrierborne variant of the Dassault Rafale potentially overshadows a competing bid by the Boeing F/A-18. In this 2018 photo, a French Navy Rafale M lands on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman . (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gitte Schirrmacher/US Navy)

The Indian government appears to be positioning itself for the procurement of 26 Dassault Rafale M carrier-based fighter aircraft for the Indian Navy.

According to Indian media reports, India's Defence Procurement Board (DPB) has approved the proposal to procure Rafale Ms. This paves the way for the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) to grant an Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement of the aircraft. The DAC is helmed by Indian Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh.

Janes is not independently able to confirm these developments. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has neither denied nor confirmed that the AoN has been granted. The Indian Navy had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

However, the developments appear to be timed with a state visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France on 13–14 July.

The potential selection of the aircraft for acquisition is the culmination of an extended assessment process by the Indian MoD for its multirole carrierborne fighters (MRCBF) programme. The Indian Navy and the MoD were assessing the suitability of several carrier-based fighter aircraft for procurement. Janes understood that two aircraft were front-runners for the MRCBF: the Boeing F/A-18E Block III Super Hornet and the Rafale M.

The MRCBF programme intends to acquire 57 naval fighters to partly equip India's first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC), the 40,000 tonne INS Vikrant

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