Government, Dassault at loggerheads over HAL role in combat Aircraft deal
The Indian government’s biggest defence acquisition of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) from French defence major Dassault Aviation could be delayed as the both parties are yet to decide the role of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Sources said that the French company ‘wants separate contracts’ for aircraft (Rafale) made by the company and another for units built by the Bangalore-based public sector aviation company.
Dassault sources were quoted as saying that HAL does not have the ‘capacity and capability’ to assemble the aircraft.
The state-owned aviation major has had its share of delays with the Light Combat Aircraft, HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft and the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) among other projects.
The Rafale beat the four-nation consortium that developed Eurofighter for the deal early in 2012 after months of negotiations.
Erstwhile Chairman of HAL had told Express that the MMRCA deal would help the aircraft maker clinch a business volume of about `25,000 crore.
“These are rough estimates and a clear picture will only come when we see the fine-print, including ToT (transfer of technology) details. We will have to see the specific role that will be assigned to us,” PV Deshmukh had said.
As per the agreement, HAL was to roll out 108 aircraft under licence out of the 126, and 18 planes will be directly supplied by Dassault Aviation.
Defence ministry sources were quoted by agencies that capacity and capabilities could be improved but that the proposal for two separate contracts was not agreeable to them.
On the negotiation process, Air Chief Marshal (Indian Air Force) NAK Browne during Aero India 2013 had said, “the contract negotiation committee process is currently on, and I expect negotiations to be complete by April or May this year. We should be in a position to sign the contract by the end of the year.”
HAL had already signed an MoU with Dassault Aviation and Snecma, as a preparatory step and have identified two locations for setting up the airframe and engine divisions.
Source: By ENS Economic Bureau – BANGALORE, The New Indian Express News – 5 April 2013
Photo: The Indian Air Force Dassault Aviation Rafale (MMRCA) medium multi-role combat aircraft (Photo by Dassault Aviation)