India, France set to sign pact for Rafale jets


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India and France are set to complete the framework agreement for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets as France’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian began his visit to India on September 1.

The visit comes amid a deadlock in talks for fighter jets over the issue of off-set tweaking of weaponry technology, among others. The discussions were held at the highest level on both sides to get over the hurdles and one party had to compromise. The French had agreed to India’s conditions and if all goes as expected the contract for 36 Rafale jets will be inked during the minister’s visit. This will come as a relief to the defence forces which has been eyeing the aircraft for over a decade.

Some of the issues that had plagued the Indian defence forces during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris in April were India’s demands of 50 percent off-set clause, tweaking of weaponry clause and plans to set up two bases for fighter jets. These issues were a hindrance in completing the deal. India announced the decision to acquire 36 Rafale fighters during PM Modi’s visit to Paris, a decision that was hailed by Paris and came as a boost to the modernisation plans of the Indian Air Force which was stuck for years. India has also constituted a committee headed by Air Marshal S.B.P. Sinha to negotiate with France and come out with the best possible deal.