France Keen On Selling Another 36 Rafale Fighter Jets To India

| October 22 , 2017 , 15:42 IST

As the Indian Air Force inducts the 36 Rafale fighter jets sold by France in a mega-deal inked in September last year worth Rs 59,000 crore (7.87 billion), France is reportedly keen to sell another 36 Rafales which the IAF had projected the need for.

According to reports, the IAF had projected the operational need for another 36 fighter jets after the first 36 Rafales are inducted at the Hasimara airbase in West Bengal and the Ambala airbase in Haryana respectively from November 2019 to mid-2022.

The first deal for the 36 Rafales along with their weapon packages and associated supplies and logistics was inked by the Modi government on the grounds that they were a "critical operational necessity" for the IAF.

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French Defence Minister Florence Parley is set to arrive in India next week to lay the groundwork for further bilateral strategic partnerships ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to India in December.

Parley is scheduled to conduct delegation-level meetings with Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on a variety of issues, including defence projects, maritime security, and counter-terrorism, and would also be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

During Parley's visit, she will also be visiting Nagpur to lay the foundation stone for a joint venture facility between the Rafale-manufacturer Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence to complete the 50 percent offsets obligation that was finalised under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked last year.

France is also one of the 4 remaining contenders for the Rs 70,000 crore ($10.9 billion) worth 'Project-75' under which 6 advanced stealth submarines are to be built in India with a collaboration from a foreign shipbuilder and an Indian shipyard.

With an annual defence spending of nearly $ 55.9 billion, India ranks as the 5th nation in terms military expenditure and is seen as an ideal market for the sale of advanced defence technology.