Fighter plane Rafale set to dazzle at Bangalore airshow

Fighter plane Rafale set to dazzle at Bangalore airshow

Even though most of the fighter planes have decided to give the 2013 Bangalore air show a go by following India’s shortlisting of Rafale as the preferred choice for 126 new fighters, the French-origin jets will leave no stone unturned to impress defence ministry officials as the two countries are yet to sign the much-awaited multi billion dollar commercial agreement.

Rafale’s manufacturer, Dassault Aviation has come with three planes, which will enthral the officials and general public for the next five days. The extensive flying by one of the world's most sophisticated fighter planes will take place days before the maiden India tour of new French president Francois Hollande who will arrive on February 14.

Though there is no clarity on whether the mega defence deal between France and India will be inked during the French president’s visit, the issue is likely to figure in bilateral talks between Hollande and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Another big-ticket deal to purchase two nuclear reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra is also pending for quite some time. Rafale, in fact, has recently asked the defence ministry to clarify the role of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited giving a fresh twist to the prolonged price negotiation process.

The government, on its part, has made it clear to the French aviation major that HAL would manufacture bulk of the aircraft under technology transfer as per the tender, which says first 18 of the 126 aircraft are to be supplied by Rafale from its facilities and the rest 108 are to be license-produced and integrated by the HAL at its facilities here.

The deal is already behind schedule as a complex price negotiation was going on behind the scenes between Dassault Aviation and defence ministry.

Besides Rafale, the only other fighter at Aero India 2013 is USA F-16 from Lockheed Martin. Though the two US companies lost in the three-year long, six-aircraft race for 126 brand new fighters for the Indian Air Force, USA continues to be a major major player in Indian military aviation after bagging a few big deals, the latest one being 10 C-17 Globemaster-III, which India is purchasing at a cost of more than $ 4 billion.

The 77.5 tones, four engines carrier is capable of lifting combat vehicles, artillery guns and battle-ready troops closer to the border. It is capable of take-off and landing on makeshift runways, barely 3,500-feet long and 90-feet wide.

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