India’s Rafale journey started with the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition in 2012 when Dassault Aviation won the deal. Its been eight years and till now, the full delivery of 36 Rafales fighters hasn’t been completed.
On the other hand, the first European nation to receive the Dassault Rafale fighters, Greece, is looking to receive the delivery of the fighter jets next year after reports indicated that France has agreed to supply Rafale jets to Athens due to Turkish belligerence.
According to a Greek newsletter, Pentapostagma, the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) will receive 12 second-hand and six new Rafales. However, it is unclear how many hours the engines would be able to provide with the second-hand fighters. The report states that such details of the contract are yet to be finalised between Athens and Paris.
Citing an expert, the report stated that it will take about six months for the first Rafale fighter jets to land on the Greek soil after all the details are closed and required signatures are received.
As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, amid escalating tensions between Greece and Turkey, France has reportedly lent a helping hand to the former by equipping them with 18 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to fight their Mediterranean neighbours.
The deal was announced only weeks ago. The contract between the French and Greek governments is at an advanced stage, which will see the HAF add a whole Rafale squadron to their existing fleet of Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcons, Dassault Mirage 2000s, and McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II.
“If all goes well then it is estimated that the agreement will be signed at the end of the year, although there are optimistic thoughts for the end of November,” said the local media report.
“Immediately after a group of 6-8 pilots of the Air Force will go to France for training and if everything runs according to schedule we will see them in Greece in the early summer of 2021, with mid-June being more likely,” it added.
Indian Rafale Jets
On the other hand, India’s MMRCA competition began in 2008 between six fighter jets – Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-21, Mikoyan MiG-35, and Saab JAS 39 Gripen. After intensive and technical evaluation, Dassault Rafales won the competition in 2012.
Then began the painfully slow process of finalising the details. The deal that began with 126 fighter jets, that went through stalled negotiations, political outrage and numerous controversies, was finally decided for only 36 jets in 2015.
In 2016, India and France signed a purchase agreement for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a value of €7.87 billion, or about Rs 60,000 crore. Under the agreement, the 36 Rafale procurement offset proposal supported the ‘Make In India’ initiative.
Last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, in its report, tabled in the parliament, revealed that the Indian Air Force (IAF) was vying for Rafale jets from the first day.
According to the report, the IAF was against buying American fighter jets as “it could face difficulties in case sanctions were imposed by (the) USA”.
However, after all the hassles, only five out of the 36 Rafale fighters have landed amid heightened tensions on the Indo-Sino border. Five more Rafales have stayed back in France for imparting training to IAF pilots.
The next batch of Rafales is expected in November. Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said that IAF would get 3-4 Rafales after every 2-3 months till the order of 36 fighters is fulfilled. He added that the decision to buy more Rafales is under consideration.
However, experts have questioned and compared the acquisition process between India and Greece. While Greek Air Force (Hellenic Air Force) could receive its firth batch of Rafale jets in less than a year, India, on other hand, took around eight excruciating years to receive the first French-origin jet which was finally landed on the Indian soil on 29th July 2020.