The Indian government is understood to have made it clear that it is no longer a question of whether Dassault Aviation will underwrite the 108 Rafales that HAL proposes to license-build in Bengaluru (a top MoD official indicated to Livefist that the RFP was explicit about this), but a question of how it will do so. Yesterday's hour-long deliberations at the MoD involved discussions on possible options. In very limited conversations with all sides, the following threads become apparent:
- Dassault and HAL will need to hammer down licensee/licensor modalities that will pave the way for a possibly complex matrix of agreements on the central issue of liability. It's clear now. It is this set of agreements that will provide a solution to the guarantee issue. The question is how long it would take to do this.
- Second, the extent of inspection and post-manufacture testing of equipment at HAL that would be the minimum required for Dassault to underwrite HAL-built jets.
- Whether there are any financial implications to additional understandings between HAL and Dassault for the process of underwriting jets produced on the former's production line in Bengaluru. Also, financial implications of the transfer of liability as a result of any additional agreements between HAL and Dassault.
- Both sides appear committed to finding a solution before Prime Minister Modi's visit to Paris in April, but is that a realistic time-frame? Sources suggest HAL and Dassault have already held extensive discussions on the liability issue and should be in a position to move quickly.