NEW DELHI — Dassault Aviation and the private sector business Reliance Group, chaired by Anil Ambani, declared Monday a joint venture to form the largest-ever defense-industrial partnership so far announced in India.
The announcement of Dassault Reliance Aerospace comes less than two weeks from when India and France signed a deal for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters for the Indian Air Force (IAF), valued at €7.8 billion (US $8.8 billion).
The new partnership will establish a foundation for a credible, aerospace-manufacturing capability under one umbrella to be created by the joint venture at Mihan, India.
Dassault Chairman Eric Trappier said the joint venture with Reliance illustrates the company's commitment in India to create a defense partnership under the Make in India initiative, while Ambani said that this was a transformational moment for India’s aerospace sector.
The Rafale deal must create a joint industrial partnership in India wherein Indian private enterprises can build defense technologies to enable self–reliance in the domestic defense sector, said an Indian Defence Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Currently, India's public and private sector enterprises barely meet less than 30% of the defense technology requirements, and there has been never so far a credible industrial partnership except for that of technology transfers, said a senior IAF official.
"A comprehensive military aerospace partnership in terms of joint venture can actually [be] translated into a long-term commitment from Indian and foreign players aiming to strengthen defense industry in India" according to an IAF official.
The Indian government wants to build more than 250 fighters in the next 20 years at a cost of more than $200 billion.
Apart from creating sub-assemblies for Rafale fighters, India plans to build homemade light combat aircraft and fifth-generation fighters with Russia in partnership with private defense enterprises.
Ambani’s Reliance Group entered into the defense sector in January 2015 and has established global partnerships with original equipment manufacturers to build airborne, land and sea platforms.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.