PARIS: It was a piece of news French President Francois Holland was itching to hear. And he got it from the horse’s mouth. Ending months of speculation over the big-ticket defence deal, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the French leader that his government has decided to buy 36 Rafale jets “in fly-away condition as quickly as possible.” The announcement by Mr Modi at a joint press meet lit up the face of the French leader and is set to bring the smiles to Dassault, the manufacturer of Rafale, and the French defence industry.
The details of the new contract in the making are not clear, but the new deal could be valued at around $4-6 billion.
“The two leaders agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft on terms that would be better than as conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway,” said a joint statement at the end of wide-ranging talks between Mr Modi and Mr Hollande at the majestic presidential palace, Palais de L’Elysees in the heart of Paris. The delivery of the jets would “in time-frame that would be compatible with the operational requirement of IAF,” said the statement.
The aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by Indian Air Force, and with a longer maintenance responsibility by France, he added.
Informed sources said that the new Rafale deal came about intense negotiations that literally went down the wire and involved hard-fought give and take.
The summit meeting in Paris, and a round table addressed by Mr Modi with top defence industry leaders, have imparted a vigorous momentum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India mission aimed at indigenizing and bolstering the country’s military-industrial complex.
Co-development and co-production of cutting-edge weapon systems, along with the transfer of technology, will be the new mantra in India-France defence relations.
The political push came right from the top, with French companies pledging strong commitment of French companies to defence-related manufacturing in India.
“The two leaders called for further intensification of cooperation in agreed areas, including collaboration in defence technologies, research and development,” said the statement.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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