Trying to get good deal on Rafale: Parrikar

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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.

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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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