“We’re in talks with about 100 Indian firms, including around 30 with which we’ve already confirmed partnerships,” he said in an interview to news agency AFP.
Clarifying on the concept of offsets in Rafale contract, Eric Trappier said, “What is called “offset” in English is usually translated into French as “compensation” or “contrepartie”. The reference is the contract that we signed, called “Offset contract”. With regard to its employees and trade unions, Dassault Aviation uses the expression “contractual offset obligation” or “contractual ‘compensation’ obligation”.
“Signing an offsets contract is a condition imposed by Indian law (Defence Procurement Procedure). The realization of offsets is an obligation and, under Indian law, the choice of partners belongs to us,” he said.
“Dassault Aviation has decided, in full agreement with this regulation, to create the DRAL joint venture with Reliance Defence and to build a plant in Nagpur, which should enable us to meet approximately 10% of these offsets obligations. We are in negotiations with around 100 Indian companies, including around 30 with which partnerships have already been concluded,” Eric Trappier said.
When asked why Reliance Defence was chosen as the Indian partner for the joint venture over Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Trappier said “Dassault Aviation decided to establish a long-term presence in India through DRAL, a joint venture whose governance is ensured by an Indian CEO (Executive Director, NDLR) and a French COO (Director of Operations, NDLR). Dassault Aviation thus exercises technical as well as industrial control of operations, applying its standards and flexibility. This joint venture will produce elements of Falcon 2000 and Rafale. The choice of the Nagpur site in central India was motivated by the availability of land with direct access to an airport runway.”
Eric Trappier said he was hopeful about the future despite the ongoing political controversy over the deal.
“The controversies are sad but we are calm. Things are moving fast. We created DRAL on February 10, 2017. The plant project was officially launched on 27 October 2017,” he said.
“In the first phase, the project planned to build a temporary hangar to house the production equipment and start employee training activities as soon as possible. This temporary hangar was completed in March 2018. The activities were launched on April 18 in the presence of senior executives from Dassault Aviation and local authorities. We have hired an Indian CEO, Sampathkumaran ST, who has more than 20 years of experience in the aviation industry. We have recruited and trained managers and companions from India. The first Falcon 2000 parts are scheduled for release at the end of the year,” Trappier said.
The Dassault CEO said that the second phase of work started in July 2018 with the construction of a permanent building, which is scheduled for completion in July 2019.
“This building will allow the ramp-up of industrial activities. The 65-year-old cooperation between Dassault and India is gaining new momentum with “Make in India” and we are proud to contribute to it,” he said.