Trying to get good deal on Rafale: Parrikar

Panaji, March 28 (IANS) Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday admitted that the Rafale aircraft deal was going slow, hinting that India was trying to get a “good deal”.

“We are definitely very serious about the Rafale deal, though I agree the speed is not enough, it should soon come to conclusion,” Parrikar said at a press conference at the Defexpo being held in Goa.

He said “money” was the hurdle, and added: “We are trying to get a good deal.”

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

The Rafale deal is said to be stuck over cost issues.

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

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

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