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Rafale fighter jets to be rolled out from Nagpur; A Glimpse into India’s Future Aviation Hub

Source : IgMp Bureau

Rafale fighter jets to be rolled out from Nagpur; A Glimpse into India's Future Aviation Hub
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Rafale fighter jets to be rolled out from Nagpur; A Glimpse into India’s Future Aviation Hub

Nashik, renowned as the wine capital of India boasting nearly 52 operational wineries, is poised to transform into an aviation manufacturing hub. On January 27, 2024, Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, highlighted this potential during the inaugural session of ‘Know Your Army,’ a two-day arms and equipment exhibition of the Indian Army.

Nashik’s Ascent to a Defense Equipment Manufacturing Hub

Gadkari emphasized Nashik’s capability to become a defense equipment manufacturing hub, citing the presence of companies like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Established in 1964, HAL’s aircraft manufacturing division in Nashik has previously produced MiG variants and Su-30 MKIs. Now, HAL gears up to activate new production lines for indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) Mk-1A and Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40) planes, addressing the Indian Air Force’s escalating demand for advanced fighter jets and basic trainers.

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LCA Mk-1A Production Boost in Nashik

HAL’s new plant in Nashik targets a substantial advancement in the delivery of the 83 LCA Mk-1A fighters ordered by the Indian Air Force. While the Bengaluru facility can produce 16 LCA Mk-1As annually, the Nashik line is expected to elevate the production capacity to a total of 24 jets. The installation of essential equipment is already underway at the Nashik division, with the first assembly scheduled for December 2024. HAL aims to deliver three LCA Tejas Mark-1A aircraft from Nashik in 2024-25, followed by eight each year thereafter.

LCA Tejas Mark1A: Bengaluru to Witness the First Rollout

The first LCA Tejas Mark1A is set to roll out in February from HAL Bengaluru. Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary has confirmed the induction of Tejas Mark1A into the air force by March-April 2024.

Rafale Manufacturing Takes Center Stage in Nagpur

Nitin Gadkari’s revelation includes significant news regarding the manufacturing of Rafale fighter jets. He announced that Rafale fighter jets will be manufactured at MIHAN in Nagpur, home to the Multi Modal International Cargo Hub and Airport. This development is attributed to Dassault Reliance Aviation Limited (DRAL), a joint venture between France’s Dassault Aviation and Reliance Aerostructure Limited.

DRAL’s Expansion at MIHAN-SEZ

DRAL’s ongoing expansion within the SEZ at MIHAN involves the construction of two new hangars, adding 3,00,000 square feet to the existing infrastructure. This expansion is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2023. DRAL aims to deliver its first Falcon 2000 aircraft by early 2025, with the capacity to manufacture up to 22 Falcon 2000 jets annually.

Rafale Orders and DRAL’s Role

DRAL’s MIHAN unit is actively involved in producing components for Rafale fighter jets. The establishment of a final assembly line for Rafale aircraft hinges on orders from the armed forces. While the Indian Navy is yet to place orders for Rafale-M, the Indian Air Force, operating 36 Rafale fighter jets, is a strong contender under the multi-billion-dollar MRFA program.

The Future of Rafale Production in India

The plan to roll out Rafale fighter jets from India is contingent upon combined orders from the armed forces. Dassault Aviation, holding a 49% stake in DRAL, is awaiting a larger order to activate the manufacturing pipeline in India. There have been speculations about Dassault considering taking over Reliance’s share in the venture, currently standing at 51%.

In summary, plans and developments are underway for the production of Rafale fighter jets in India. However, the realization of this goal depends on the scale of fighter jet orders, particularly within the MRFA program.

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