Will need larger Rafale order for true Make in India: Dassault CEO
Dassault believes that the current order of 36 jets would not be sufficient to transfer high end manufacturing or technology to India.
Answering a query by ET, Trappier said that Dassault is ready to assist India with its fighter jet programs. "We have already discussed with Indian agencies and have proposed that our capabilities be integrated. We have started the discussions as part of the offset framework," Trappier said, adding that the company is keen to partner with India for the project.
The Dassault CEO made a strong pitch for the Rafale for an upcoming Indian Navy requirement for carrier borne jets, saying that the Rafale is the only jet with dedicated air force and naval versions. "We want to continue beyond the 36 jets on order. The requirement is around 200 jets for India and a naval order as well," he said.
Dassault however believes that the current order of 36 jets would not be sufficient to transfer high end manufacturing or technology to India. Trappier said that extra orders would need to be placed by 2017-18 to come up with a larger Make in India plan that would involve shifting heavy work.
Responding to questions on why the company chose Reliance Defence to be a major offset partner, Dassault said that its main Indian partner in the past- HAL - was busy with several projects like the Light Combat Aircraft and the choice was to go with a new entrant into the defence field. "We were told that HAL was fully booked. We talked to Reliance and they were very keen to create such capabilities in India. They have a track record and the financial capability as well," Trappier said.
In December, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said that India needs much more than the 36 jets on order, without specifying the number that the air force has recommended to the government.
Saying that India requires 200-250 more aircraft in the middle weight category of fighters that the Rafale falls into, the air chief said that he would like a much larger number of the planes under the Make in India initiative.
Global aviation giants like Dassault, Airbus, Boeing and Saab are closely watching Indian moves to select a combat aircraft for a new fighter production line. Raha’s comments that the major requirement is for middle weight category fighters would weigh heavily on the number of competitors that make the cut.