India’s proposed acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft from France would be “on terms better than that conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process”, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said.
The procurement of the Rafale Jets in a fly-away condition would be made “as quickly as possible” to meet the critical operational necessity for Multirole Combat Aircraft for Indian Air Force (IAF), the minister said in the Indian Parliament yesterday.
The aircraft, associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by the Indian Air Force (IAF); and with a longer maintenance responsibility by France, he said.
India has been negotiating with Rafale manufacturer, Dassault for the last three years for the supply of 18 aircraft in a fly-away condition and 118 planes to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India.
Talks had deadlocked over the issue of who would guarantee the aircraft to be manufactured by HAL with no end in sight in view of contrasting positions by Dassault and HAL.
Met with repeated IAF pleas, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cut the proverbial Gordian knot by opting for direct government-to-government deal to speed up the process of buying 36 planes or two squadrons, a critically needed number to bolster India’s front-line defences.