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Saturday, 21 May 2016

Centre bargaining hard to lower Rafale price’

As negotiations between India and France stretch to the last mile on the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar underscored the cost of a Rafale jet by observing that a Su-30 fighter and an indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas can be purchased at the cost of one Rafale jet. “One Rafale fighter is worth approximately Rs.700 crore to Rs.750 crore while a Su-30 costs about Rs.475 crore.
Compared to these planes, India’s Tejas is in the range of Rs.200-250 crore only. We can get two Tejas at the price of one Rafale,” Mr. Parrikar said in an interview to All India Radio (AIR) on Friday. However it was not clear what composition of the aircraft Mr. Parrikar was referring to at this unit cost. Typically the cost of the aircraft goes up with the addition of components, electronics, armaments and other customisation. Though Mr. Parrikar had stated earlier that Rafale jets were expensive and bringing down the price was important, this is the first time he gave a comparative figure while underscoring that the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas is as good as the French Rafale fighter jet in terms of capabilities. On the current price negotiations for 36 jets under a government-to-government deal, he said it will take a “few more weeks” to finalise it. “You will have to bring down the cost. If you throw away the price they demand, our coffers will soon be empty,” he observed. Tejas vs. Rafale Drawing a comparison between Tejas and Rafale jets, Mr. Parrikar stated that Tejas had similar capabilities although it was in a different class. “Our Tejas is having the same qualities as Rafale does. Although Tejas is in light weight category, its range also half compared to Rafale, in terms of avionics, electronics and fire power it is no less than the Rafale,” he said. Talking of measures to improve the squadron strength of the Air Force, he pointed that four to five squadrons of the Tejas will be added in the next three to four years in addition to a few more squadrons of Sukhoi as well as two squadrons of Rafales. “The first squadron of Tejas will be ready by September-October and it will be flying before Diwali,” the Minister said. On the selection of another fighter aircraft to be built under the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative, Mr. Parrikar said it could be any aircraft and a “decision in this regard will be taken in this financial year.”

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