India may consider the naval variant of Dassault Rafale for its navy’s carrier operations.
The government wants commonalities between logistics and spares for fighters with the Navy and Air Force, Defense News cited an unnamed defense ministry source as saying Tuesday.
A detailed briefing on Rafale for the Indian Navy is planned here for Jan. 29, he said, but declined to comment if India will buy Rafales for the Navy as well.
A Navy official said the service needs 54 fighter aircraft but refused to say if Rafale has been shortlisted.
The deal to buy 26 fighter planes is expected to be signed during the visit of French President Hollande to New Delhi where he has been invited to the chief guest during the Republic Day Parade.
However, there is no official word from either the French or the Indian sides if an agreement is scheduled.
According to a report in the Indian Express Newspaper, the price and a 30% offsets clause were the two stumbling blocks in arriving at a closure of the deal which was broadly agreed between the Indian and French governments during the visit of Prime Minister Modi to France last April.
The MoD source added that the entire deal, including weapons package, would cost over $9 billion. But he gave no time frame when the final contract will be signed.
The governments of India and France have been working on the Rafale deal since April under which France will provide an offset of under 50 percent.
Funding of the 36 Rafale fighters will be a big challenge, said another MoD source. The funding time line has not been decided yet, he added.
The Indian MoD is also drafting new guidelines under which the French defense companies involved will have to pay penalties if spares are not available or performance is unsatisfactory, Defense news reported.