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India seals deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets

| Updated: Sep 23, 2016 23:44 IST

New Delhi [India], Sept. 23 (ANI): India and France on Friday signed the inter-governmental agreement for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force at the cost of Euro 7.87 billion. Addressing the media post the deal, Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar hailed the agreement for fighter jets as unique in itself. "I want to give you this information that today India has entered into an inter-governmental agreement with France on Rafael. Post this, we will now have a potent, effective fighter jets which were the requirement of the Air Force. This is a first deal for fighter jets in 20 years which is uniqueness in itself," said Parikkar. The deal between the two sides was inked at the Hyderabad House here in the presence of Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian. The Rafale aircraft would be delivered from France in fly-away condition along with weapons, training simulator, associated equipment and Performance Based Logistics (PBL) support. The aircrafts will be delivered to the IAF within next 36 to 67 months. This schedule is better than the delivery schedule proposed earlier by the French side. Rafale is a multi-role fighter aircraft capable of undertaking all types of missions with a capability to simultaneously perform both air, defence and ground attack roles in a single mission. The induction of Rafale aircraft will enhance the IAF's strategic reach and provide technological edge. The version of Rafale aircraft supplied to India will have better operational capabilities than the Rafale aircraft being operated by all other Air Forces in terms of better radar, better detection and survival features and will have capabilities for operations from higher altitude airfields. The weapons package includes, amongst others, advanced Beyond Visual Range (BVR) METEOR missiles which is much better than the previous offer. In addition, other BVR missiles and latest precision guided Air to Ground weapons are included as earlier which will provide the IAF will strong capability for striking targets with precision from far off distances. The version of Rafale aircraft being supplied will thus have higher operational capability than the earlier offer and would significantly enhance the capability edge of the IAF. The maintenance support for 36 Rafale aircrafts will be provided through PBL. The PBL terms and conditions negotiated for the present procurement are better as compared to the previous French offer in terms of availability of aircraft and longer PBL duration. Unlike the previous French offer, the initial PBL support in the current procurement is of 5 years, with an option to extend by 2 more years for an amount already committed by the French side. In addition, Government of India will have the right to renew the first PBL period of 7 years for 5 more years under the same terms and conditions. India and France held several rounds of negotiations after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision for direct purchase of 36 Rafale jets in fly away condition in April 2014. The deal includes the 36 aircraft, weapons, spares, support and maintenance and the jet will be customized as per the requirements of the Indian Air Force. The delivery of Rafale jets will be done by 2019. Under the terms of the contract, France has to ensure that 75 percent of the fleet i.e. 27 fighters are operationally available at any given time. There is a 50 percent offset clause under which the French industry will invest half the contract value back in the country which is expected to develop some expertise domestically in the aerospace sector. Like all defence deals, this deal too has a 50 percent optional clause under which India can procure 18 more jets at the same price but the government has so far stated that they would not order beyond 36. The Indian Air Force (IAF) currently has 32 fighter squadrons against an authorization of 42, and many of them, particularly the MiGs, are reaching the end of their service. (ANI)