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Update: 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.

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it granted an Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement of the 26 Rafale Ms on 13 July, following a meeting of India's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). In its statement, the MoD added that the AoN also covers the potential acquisition of “ancillary equipment” associated with the Rafale.

This includes “weapons, simulators, spares, documentation, crew training, and logistic support for the Indian Navy from the French government based on an intergovernmental agreement (IGA),” the MoD said.

“The price and other terms of purchase will be negotiated with the French government after taking into account all relevant aspects, including the comparative procurement price of similar aircraft by other countries,” the MoD added. “Integration of Indian-designed equipment and establishment of a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) hub for various systems will be incorporated into the contract documents after due negotiations.”

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

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