French major Dassault Aviation will invest over 100 million euros in a joint venture with Reliance Aerospace to manufacture aircraft components as part of the 'offset obligation' connected to the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
The Dassault-Reliance joint venture represents the largest ever foreign direct investment in the defence sector in India, the companies said in a joint statement.
The foundation laying ceremony of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL) manufacturing facility was held on Saturday at the Dhirubhai Ambani Aerospace Park in Mihan SEZ near the Nagpur airport.
The foundation stone was laid in the presence of Florence Parly, Minister of Armed Forces of the French Republic, Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India.
Kokilaben Ambani, the Ambani family matriarch, Tina Ambani, wife of Anil Ambani and his son Anmol were also present.
DRAL will manufacture several components of the offset obligation connected to the purchase of 36 Rafale Fighters from France, signed between the two governments in September 2016, Ambani said.
It will manufacture components for the Legacy Falcon 2000 series of civil jets manufactured by Dassault Aviation and will become part of its global supply chain.
"These first steps are expected to be achieved in the coming years, leading to the possible setting up of the final assembly of Rafale and Falcon aircraft in India," a DRAL official said.
This is for the first time that a business jet will be manufactured in India, the official said.
The DRAL facility will train skilled workers in aviation assembly and integration, and lead to major employment generation in Nagpur and surrounding areas, the official added.
It will also attract and house an organic ecosystem of over 200 MSMEs to secure the component and avionics manufacturing needs of Rafale and Falcon jets.
Dassault Aviation Chairman Eric Trappier said the firm is firmly committed to implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' programme.
"This development (DRAL) gives the 65 year-long strong association of Dassault Aviation in India a new momentum and the will of future manufacturing developments," he said.
"The Reliance-Dassault partnership will bring high levels of technology transfer and make India a major supplier in the global aviation supply chain," Ambani said.
Dassault and Reliance will fully support 'Make in India' and 'Skill India' missions and enhance India's pursuit of self sufficiency in the aerospace sector, he added.
Ambani also thanked Gadkari and Fadnavis for their "strong and consistent support" for the project.
The Dhirubhai Ambani Aerospace Park, spread over 289 acres, will be the largest greenfield aerospace park in India with a capital investment of over Rs 6,500 crore. It is being developed in two phases.
Phase one production is expected to start next year.
It will be home to DRAL - the 51:49 joint venture of Reliance Aerostructure and Dassault Aviation.
Reliance Group will set up assembly lines and manufacturing facilities of fixed wing aircraft aerostructure for commercial transport aircraft and helicopters for both defence and commercial use.
The park will also house ancillary and component manufacturing units to support after-sales requirements.