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Make in India: France to set up production centers for Rafale fighters

New Delhi: With the French side contemplating to set up production centers for Rafales fighter jets in India, private sectors in India are all set to get a boost in their business. Reportedly, the centers will also produce executive jets at a cheaper cost.

Notably, the Rafale deal is the biggest ever defense deal for India. The deal also facilitates the sharing of technological data sharing for India’s home-grown Tejas project.

Officials concerned with the project have told Economic Times that major partners for this ‘Make in India’ project are currently being identified by the French side and are likely to include Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Systems, Noida-based Samtens and Bharat Electronics. These officials, both Indian and French, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The NDA government had earlier revamped the agreement inked by the last UPA government. The UPA struck the deal to procure 126 Rafael jets, but the Modi government ordered 36 aircraft.The Rafale fighter deal, which will bring in at least $4.5 billion into ‘Make in India’ projects as per the contract being negotiated, is set to involve a third production line for the aircraft in India, French officials were quoted as saying to ET.

While two lines for the fighter are currently active in France at the same facility, a third line in India would take care of export orders for the fighters and also possible future orders by the Indian Navy and Air Force. The line would also support the production of a low-cost variant of the ‘Falcon’ executive jet for the Indian and Asian markets.

However, the 36 jets ordered India would be supplied by France.

The setting up of the production centres will allow the DRDO to get high-end technologies. This would bolster the process for development of  Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

Top officials of the French Ministry’s International Directorate of the DGA (General Directorate for Armament) are currently in India to finalise the draft of the agreement which is slated to be sealed when visits India in January, next year. Other deals on the sophistication of defence equipment are also on the anvil.

(With inputs from ET)

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