Defence Minister of India formally received the first Rafale fighter jet built for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in France. 

  • The first batch of jets will arrive in India only in May 2020.
Rafale fighter jet India-France Defence dialogue:
  • Defence industrial cooperation is one of the mainstays of the strategic partnership between India and France.
  • The first Rafale Fighter jet handed over to India on the sidelines of India-France Defence Dialogue in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France on October 8, 2019.
  • During the summit both the country comprehensively discussed key aspects of bilateral defence partnership and resolved the issue to continue strengthening the ties between the two countries.
India-France Rafale Deal:
  • In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition,
  • The deal has a 50% offset clause as part of which French companies in the deal are setting up facilities in India and tying up with local companies to execute the obligations.
  • Dassault Reliance JV (DRAL) production facility in Nagpur has started functioning while Thales already has a presence in Nagpur. Engine maker Safran is set to inaugurate its facility in Hyderabad.
  • As per IGA, deliveries begin 36 months from signing of the contract and will be completed in 67 months.
  • The 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE) will be incorporated, tested and certified as per the requirement of Indian Air Force.
  • As per the terms of the contract till May 2020, three batches of IAF pilots along with engineers and technicians will undergo advanced training on the Indian jets in France. 
About Rafale Fighter Jet:
  • Introduced in 2001, Rafale is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft designed and built by the French company Dassault Aviation. The aircraft is considered one of the most potent combat jets globally.
  • The fighter jet, equipped with a wide range of weapons, is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.
  • The aircraft is fitted with an onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS) which suppresses the need for liquid oxygen re-filling or ground support for oxygen production.
  • It is capable of carrying out a wide range of missions including air-defence/air-superiority, reconnaissance, close air support dynamic targeting, air-to-ground precision strike/interdiction, anti-ship attacks, nuclear deterrence and buddy-buddy refuelling.
  • It is distinct from other European fighters of its era, as it is almost entirely built by one country, involving most of France's major defence contractors, such as Dassault, Thales and Safran.
  • Many of the aircraft's avionics and features, such as direct voice input, the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, were domestically developed and produced for the Rafale programme.
  • The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.
Which countries are currently using the aircraft?
  • The Rafale fighter jets are being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy.
  • It has been marketed for export to several countries and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force.
  • The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria.
Offset Clause:
  • Offset, in a literary sense, is a factor that counterbalances or compensates an act.
  • In the defence procurement context, it is an element of ‘compensation’ made by the manufacturer that mostly takes place in the form of placing a minimum per cent of value addition in the ordering country.
India’s Defence Offset Policy:
  • The defence offset policy is a part of the Defence Procurement and Procedure (DPP). The latest one is the DPP 2016. Developing indigenous defence sector is the major objective of the defence.
  • A major feature of the 2016 offset policy is that it increases the threshold of defence offset to Rs 2000 crore from the current level of Rs 300 crores under “buy” and ‘buy and make” categories. This means that only those purchase of above Rs 2000 crore that the foreign company has to ensure 30% domestic value addition in India.
  • The major feature of DPP 2016 is the creation of a new category called ‘Indian Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM)’ and it has been given the highest priority. This category is created and promoted maximum to encourage domestic design of defence equipment.
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