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India to buy 36 French Rafale fighter

17 April, 2016

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NEW DELHI: The negotiations for India to buy 36 French Rafale fighter jets are near the finish line, the Indian Defence Ministry said with sources saying that the price would be set around $9 billion.

Both sides hoped to wrap up the strategic order during President Francois Hollande’s visit to India for India’s Republic Day celebration in January but hard bargaining on price would stall final result.

A source in ministry said that the price agreed for the Dassault Aviation jets was around $9 billion although a spokesman declined to confirm this on the record.

The spokesman on Friday said, “Negotiations are in the final stage. Nothing has been concluded so far”.

Dassault also declined to comment. The price is significantly below that originally sought by the French plane maker. There have been several leaks to the Indian press over recent months that a deal had been reached that proved to be premature.

Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened in the troubled Rafale procurement last year, ordering government-to-government talks after commercial negotiations with Dassault had collapsed. The leaders agreed to scale back an original plan to buy 126 Rafale planes to just 36 in flyaway condition to meet the Indian Air Force urgent needs as it faces an assertive China and Pakistan. 90 planes not supplied via original multi-role combat aircraft tender, meanwhile became the target of intense interest from other plane makers.

Lockheed Martin Corp pitched its F16 Fighting Falcon and Boeing Co its F18 Super Hornet to Indian officials before United States Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s recent trip to New Delhi. Both are offering to transfer production to support Modi’s ‘Make in India’ drive to boost India’s industrial base and reduce its import needs. India is the world’s largest buyer of foreign arms.

The visit of Carter made progress towards ‘foundational’ agreements to strengthen the partnership with India and allow for technology transfer while protecting the intellectual property of US defence contractors.

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