India’s $20 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) project for 126 Rafale fighters that is reportedly stalled in the final stages will be the crux of discussions when French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian calls on his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar on his three day visit to New Delhi next week.
There hasn’t been much progress in the stalled MMRCA deal for the last one year. This is the second visit by the French defense minister in the past six months and the first since Manohar Parrikar became the defense minister.
The major disagreement is Dassault’s reluctance to accept responsibility for the 108 aircrafts that are to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) regarding the price and work sharing. This has been a major reason for stalling the finalization of the project for several months now.
Incidentally, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in June and had pushed for early purchase of Rafale combat jet planes.
Fabius had said France hopes that with the new government, which was keen on efficiency, the implementation of the decision will be swift and had expressed confidence of a "positive outcome" to the ongoing negotiations in the deal.
Asserting that there was a difference for "some time" and "too long", Fabius had said that Rafale meets all the requirements of India, including cutting-edge technology and highest quality.