To meet the critical requirements of Indian Air Force (IAF), India and France on Wednesday decided to set up teams to work out details of the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition and a “time-bound manner”.
The decision was taken after a meeting between French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi. “The two defence ministers discussed modalities to reach an early conclusion of an inter-governmental agreement on the subject. The two sides decided to set up teams to work out details in a time-bound manner,” a short statement by the defence ministry said.
“A government-to-government committee will be set up which will begin negotiations on the (Rafale) deal. The negotiations will start in May and we have to conclude them as early as possible,” Parrikar had said earlier.
Last month, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris, India and France had agreed to get into a government-to-government contract for 36 Rafale jets in a fly-away condition. Rafale had in 2012 received the IAF nod for 126 jets in a $20-billion deal in competition from five other manufacturers. About 16 were to be bought off the shelf and the remaining manufactured in India by HAL under a transfer of technology agreement.