India begins manufacturing parts for Rafale fighter jets in Nagpur
In a first, India has started manufacturing parts for Rafale, some of which could even be used on the 36 French fighter jets ordered by the Narendra Modi government in 2016.
The first set of doors that cover the twin engines of the fighter jets has come out of the Nagpur facility, which is a joint venture of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence and French firm Dassault Aviation.
“We are seeing India has one of the drivers of the Dassault Aviation products. Be it the Falcon business jet or now the Rafale, every product in the future will have an Indian connection,” an official of the French defence major told The Print.
Defence sources said the idea is to scale up production of Rafale parts in the coming months.
Asked if the doors will be fitted on board the Indian Rafale fighter jets, another company official said, “It is a may or may not be. It all depends on the rate of production and the quantity of parts available back in France. But the parts manufactured in Nagpur will go up on the Rafale for sure.”
First 4 Rafale jets expected to arrive in May
The first four Rafale jets are expected to arrive in India in May. While one squadron of the Rafale fighter jets will be based in Ambala, the other would be in Hasimara, West Bengal.
Industry sources said that what works for foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers is that production in India helps them to meet offset obligations and also to procure materials and products at a much lower rate since the labour cost is less in the country.
The Nagpur facility of Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL) was initially making only cockpits for the French manufacturer’s Falcon business jets, besides other parts.
The facility was only meant to manufacture components for Falcon jets and not for the Rafale jets.
But in June 2019, ThePrint had reported that Dassault Aviation is likely to start manufacturing components of the Rafale fighter jets at its India facility, with the wares destined for global customers.
Dassault and Reliance announced their joint venture and the creation of DRAL on 3 October 2016, barely two weeks after India signed a 7.878 billion euro deal for 36 Rafale jets in a flyaway condition.
The DRAL facility was inaugurated in October 2017, in the presence of Dassault CEO Eric Trappier and Anil Ambani.