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Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 17, April 18, 2015

On Rafale’s Induction into the IAF

Friday 17 April 2015

by Hamid Habibullah

Egypt’s procurement of the muilti-role combat aircraft Rafale from the Dassault Aviation of France had been actually financed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have been known for long to be Egypt’s sponsors in West Asia. With the recent payments made by the Saudis for French weapons supplied to Lebanon and Egypt, Riyadh has sought to kill two birds with one stone: It strengthens the Saudi influence on regional players while getting an opportunity to make an impact on the ongoing far-reaching negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme. In these circumstances the undeniably unreasonable prices are of no consequence to the Saudis at all when these help them to reach their strategic goals in the Middle East.

It needs to be noted that Rafale was designed by France’s Dassault Aviation way back in 1986 and is based on out-of-date technology. That is one of the main reasons why Rafale was refused by several countries including Saudi Arabia, Libya, South Korea, Brazil, Singapore, Norway and Switzerland.

Given the plans to induct these aircraft into the Indian Air Force in 10 years time, it must be pointed out that New Delhi would be purchasing forty-year-old technology for unreasonably high prices. That means that the IAF’s ageing fighter fleet will be replaced with out-of-date platforms and the Government of India will have to pay double the price for that. In such a situation the IAF would completely fail to translate into reality its air superiority in the region.