Rafale deal nears finalisation, agreement on price likely soon

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New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) India and France have come closer to finalising the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets which India wants to buy, informed sources said on Friday, adding that an agreement on price may be reached soon.

The price has been a major sticking point in the deal with India trying to bring it down for the fighter jet known to be one of the most expensive in the world.

While it was not revealed if an agreement has been struck on how much India would pay, attempts had been on to bring the price down to under 8 billion euros or Rs.6,000 crore for a complement of 36 Rafale fighters.

An agreement has, however, eluded the two sides, with France, which sold 24 Rafale jets to Egypt at 5.2 billion euros, not agreeing to bring the price too low for India.

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The deal also has an offset clause of 50 percent, which will mean half of the value of the deal will come back, giving boost to domestic industries.

There had been disagreement on the offset clause earlier as well with France insisting for it to be at 20 percent, but it was resolved later.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in March that India is trying to get a “good deal” on Rafale.

Rafale is a multi-role twin-engine aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation of France. The initial plans were, however, to buy 126 Rafale jets, a deal which could not fructify. After that, a government to government contract was signed for India to buy 36 jets off the shelf.

The Indian Air Force at present has 33 operational squadrons, against a sanctioned strength of 39.5.

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The IAF is also eagerly awaiting the delivery of its first squadron of indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft.

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