After bagging the €8.78-billion deal for 36 Rafale fighters to strengthen the Indian Air Force fleet, French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation is now eyeing the naval contract of 57 aircraft that is up for grabs. The navy issued a request for information last month seeking response from various manufacturers to equip its aircraft carriers with fighter jets, shelving the original plan to go in for the naval version of the indigenous Tejas.
Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, said the French aviation company will pitch for the naval contract. “We are the only company to have strictly the same aircraft for our air force and for our navy. Our Rafale for the navy and the air force are same. In case we have the new contract for the navy, we will benefit from the local implementation of the Rafale production [for the air force],” Trappier said.
Like other defence companies vying for the multibillion-dollar contract, Dassault too has offered to set up a manufacturing line in India. “We started to think seriously about producing Rafale in India a long time ago. We will start production of parts of Rafale, which is a part of the exisiting contract.