New Delhi : As India and France work on the deal for 36 Rafale jets for the IAF, a high-level team of Dassault Aviation met senior officials here, pitching for the naval version of the fighter plane for the country’s next indigenous aircraft carrier – Vishal. Sources said, the team from France gave a detailed presentation to senior Navy officers on various aspects of the naval version and the benefits it would offer with two arms of defence forces using Rafale fighter jets.
The Air Force is set to acquire 36 Rafale aircraft manufactured by Dassault Aviation under a government-to government deal. The development comes when the Navy is in the ‘design phase’ of the next aircraft carrier project.
Sources said India had written to four countries, including France, seeking proposals for the design of the aircraft carrier that will have over 50 planes on board.
While India currently operates two aircraft carriers– INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat– the latter is set to be decommissioned soon. The country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant is already under construction in Kochi and is scheduled to be handed over to the Navy by end of 2018. The Navy will deploy MiG 29K fighter aircraft on Vikrant. However, it is not clear if it will stick to MiG 29K or go in for a new aircraft for Vishal. As per the Navy’s plan, Vishal would be a 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, about 300 metres in length and around 70 metres in width.
While the exact propulsion system for it has not been decided yet, sources indicated it could well be a nuclear apparatus.