Adding yet another angle to the long list of fictional allegations against the Rafale deal, some people have circulated a news today that France has ordered 28 Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation for €2 billion. According to them, these aircraft will be of next-generation F4 Standard, and the per unit price of this deal is almost half of what India is paying for the 36 Rafale jets of F3R standard.
1/ Big News: French government signed a €2 billion contract with Dassault Aviation for 28 Rafale aircraft on 14 January 2019. These aiercraft will be the latest F4 configuration. It is almost half the price what Modi govt is paying for bare F3 version + https://t.co/QbszFpNRHS
— Ravi Nair (@t_d_h_nair) January 15, 2019
All 36 #Rafale jets ordered by India in 2015 (flyaway condition) will only be delivered by 2022…& they will immediately become outdated?
Cuz in 2023 the more advanced F4 versions will be delivered – at almost half the price that India paid for F3 ver.?♂️ https://t.co/Gv99RglMXW
— Akash Banerjee (@akashbanerjee) January 15, 2019
The reports also say that the 28 Rafale jets of F4 configuration will be delivered by 2023. But the fact is, it is completely fake news, and two unrelated deals have been maliciously combined to show that Indian Rafale deal is too costly.
The F4 configuration for Rafale fighter is still in drawing board, it is in initial stage of development at present, and it is not possible to deliver F4 Rafale by 2023. The F4 standard was launched yesterday, i.e. on 14th January 2019. And the €2 billion contract that Rafale has got from the France government is for development of the F4 standard. The French government funds R&D activities of Dassault Aviation, and this contract for development of F4 standard for Rafale was awarded to the company when French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly visited the company’s plant in Mérignac, France, on January 14. The €2 billion contract is for development of the upgraded configuration only, it does not include any aircraft production.
According to Dassault Aviation, the Validation of the F4 standard is planned for 2024, with some functions becoming available as of 2022. This means, the F4 standard Rafale jet cannot go into production before 2024, and therefore it is impossible that France will be getting 28 Rafale jets of this standard by 2023.
France will be getting 28 Rafale jets in 2022-2024, but that will be of currently available standards, not the F4 standard that is not developed yet. The France government has ordered 180 Rafale aircraft so far, the last being an order for 60 aircraft placed in 2009 for Navy. As per a Dassault Aviation presentation in July 2018, the company has supplied 151 Rafale to France defence forces so far, and 1 was to be delivered during the second half of 2018. The company said that the remaining 28 aircraft will be delivered between 2022 and 2024.
This means, France will be getting 28 Rafale fighter jets in 2022-24 as the last batch of aircraft it had already ordered in 2009, these deliveries have no connection with the contract awarded for development of F4 Standard.
It can be noted that India is buying F3R standard Rafale jets, which is the latest standard of the aircraft available at present. The France government had funded the development of this standard too, as the government had awarded a contract of €1 billion for the development of fourth-generation Rafale aircraft in 2014. Just like the current contract, this was also funding for R&D and didn’t involve an order for new aircraft. The F3R standard of Rafale was validated only in November 2018, and therefore it is the latest version of the aircraft that India has ordered for.
According to reports, France is expected to order 30 Rafale of F4 standard in 2023, by when the standard will be almost ready, there is no current order for this standard as being reported by some. Dassault estimates that the F4 standard Rafale jets will be delivered by 2030.
This fake news was first spread on Twitter by Ravi Nair, who is associated with propaganda sites like The Wire and Janta Ka Reporter. He has been in the forefront of spreading fake news about the Rafale deal. According to a report published on November 2, he had already published more than 40 articles on the Rafale deal by then.