India and France may finalize procurement of 36 Dassault Rafale fighters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) by the end of May, IHS Janes reported Monday.
IHS Janes believes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have insisted on the deadline with his French Counterpart Francois Hollande soon after the announcing the procurement of the fighters on 10th April.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to travel to India soon to finalize the deal estimated at around $5-6 billion.
France is eyeing to divert Rafale jets from its own military production in order to fulfill India’s urgent requirement for 36 warplanes.
"Since India wants 36 fighter planes on an urgent basis, one of the options would be to divert the planes that are under production for French military to India. These planes can be fine-tuned to Indian requirements," sources said.
"Dassault will have to ramp up its production capacities to meet both Egypt and Indian orders at the same time. While they will obviously do it, it cannot happen overnight," sources said, pointing out that various other firms like Thales are also part of the Rafale project.
French military already have three squadron of Rafale fighter jets. The French Navy too has placed an order but the sources did not confirm the total number they have signed up for.
Indian defense minister Manohar Parrikar told the Mail Today newspaper on 16 April that the accounting process for the Rafale would be completed within 2-3 months and deliveries would begin in 18 months. "So roughly it (the contract) will take three years," he said.