The Indian Navy has expressed its preference for the French Rafale M aircraft for aircraft carriers over the American F-18 Super Hornet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce a multi-billion dollar deal for the purchase of 26 Rafale-M fighter jets during his visit to France. The Prime Minister of France will be in France on July 17 this year as the guest of honor at the Bastille Day parade.
This paper was the first of its kind that the Indian Navy had expressed preference for the French Rafale Marine over the American F-18 Super Hornet. Its price has not been disclosed yet, but sources said that these multi-role fighters will be cheaper than those bought by the Indian Air Force earlier.
It will be purchased through a government-to-government deal rather than an open tender.
The Indian Navy was looking for a suitable fighter to be deployed on the INS Vikrant aircraft carrier to replace its aging MiG 29Ks. Sources said its endeavor ended with Dassault’s Rafale Marine, which contains more than 80% of the features of the Indian Air Force’s Rafale. The low cost of training, repairs and maintenance due to the commonalities of the fleet made the Navy prefer the French fighter.
Sources said that besides the commonalities of the fleet, the Indian Navy officers were impressed with the capabilities of the Rafale-M during the joint exercises and pilot practical test conducted in India. After the tests, the Navy informed the Ministry of Defense that the Rafale-M was the best fit for its needs.