- Rafale fighter jet deal with France can happen during PM Modi's trip
- Deal can propel India back to biggest importer of defense equipment globally
- India lost out to Saudi Arabia in early 2015 as world’s top defence equipment importer
- $20-billion deal for 126 Rafale fighter aircraft has been stuck since 2012 over price
- France's Dassault Aviation was selected by India from among 5 bidders in 2012
- If 'technology transfer' is given by Rafale, it will boost PM Modi's ‘Make In India’ initiative
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If PM Modi gets through Rafale deal, India will regain the position it lost to Saudi Arabia in early 2015.[/caption]
While New Delhi is looking to seal the deal on the Rafale fighter jets with France during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with French President Francois Hollande in Paris, it might put India back on the map as the world's biggest importer of defense equipment.
Analysts say that if the fighter deal goes through with France, India will regain the position it lost to Saudi Arabia in early 2015 as the world’s top defence equipment importer.
The $20-billion deal for 126 Rafale fighter aircraft has been stuck since 2012 over price and delivery guarantees. France's Dassault Aviation was selected by India from among five bidders in 2012 for buying 126 Rafale fighter jets as it was the lowest bidder.
Saudi Arabia surpassed India to become the world's top importer of defense equipment in 2014, according to IHS Jane’s, as global defense trade rose for the sixth straight year to $64.4 billion, up from $56.8 billion.
According to Statistica, the scale of Middle East's booming weapons trade can be estimated from the fact that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imported $8.6 billion of military equipment in 2014 - more than the defense imports of Western Europe combined.
In 2014, India imported $5.57 billion of military hardware, placing it second worldwide. China rounds off the top three, with arms imports amounting to $2.6 billion.
The US, the world's top supplier of defense equipment, accounted for one-third of all exports last year and was the main beneficiary of strong Middle Eastern demand, IHS said.
America's Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, Europe's Airbus Group and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) are the top five company exporters globally.
PTI reports that the deal to supply 126 Rafale fighter planes is also deadlocked because of differences over cost and technology transfer issues to give the ‘Make In India’ initiative a big push. The French firm is reportedly seeking a higher price. The Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were the only two defence firms left in the race for the 126 aircraft Indian deal after years of tests since 2009.
Modi, who arrived in Paris late on Thursday on a four-day visit, will also address two meetings with French CEOs—one on infrastructure and another on defence. He will also have ‘Naav pe Charcha’ (chat on boat) with Hollande when they go for a cruise on Seine river which passes through Paris.