India, France try hard to end 'complex negotiation' on Rafale

India, France try hard to end 'complex negotiation' on Rafale

India and France are trying hard to conclude the “complex negotiation” over proposed supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets to Indian Air Force (IAF), with only two days left before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande meet in New Delhi.

 
Though the multi-billion dollar deal for supply of 36 Rafale multi-role combat aircraft — manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France — for IAF was expected to be one of the most prominent outcomes of French President’s visit to New Delhi, the negotiators could not narrow differences, particularly on the issue of price of each aircraft along with its weapon system.

“The discussions are taking place at present. So I cannot say what will be the outcome of this. They are not finalised. It is indeed a complex negotiation,” France’s ambassador to India, Francois Richier, told journalists on Friday.

Hollande, who is going to be the chief guest on the occasion of Republic Day in New Delhi, will land in Chandigarh on Sunday to commence his second visit to India.

 Modi will receive him in Chandigarh, where the two leaders will address a meeting of the top business leaders of India and France.

 A number of business deals are expected to be signed by Indian and French companies on the sideline of the event in Chandigarh.

Prime minister and French president will meet in New Delhi on Monday where they will review bilateral cooperation between India and France and will also exchange views on national and international issues.

The government had in 2011 short-listed Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon out of six biddings for the contract for supply of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft for the IAF.
The Dassault Aviation finally won the contract in 2012.

But in view of the “critical operational necessity for Multirole Combat Aircraft” for the IAF, prime minister, during his visit to Paris in April last year, conveyed to French president that India would like to acquire 36 Rafale jets “in fly-away condition as quickly as possible” under an inter-governmental agreement to be negotiated by the two nations.

New Delhi and Paris have since long been negotiating the proposed inter-governmental negotiation, but could not make a breakthrough on critical issues of pricing and offset obligation. “I will share with you that I am hopeful (that the inter-governmental agreement will be signed during French President’s visit to India). But (being) hopeful does not mean we have certitude. Work is being conducted with a lot of energy,” said France’s envoy to India.

Officials said Modi and Hollande might call for early conclusion of the deal on 36 Rafale jets after their meeting in New Delhi on Monday.   

New Delhi and Paris are also discussing possibilities of supply of Rafale aircraft for Indian Navy as well as another project for co-development of Short Range Surface-to-Air Missiles or SR-SAM by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation with European missile system manufacturer MBDA.

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