France offers $8.56 billion for 36 Rafale Fighters to India

PARIS: France has offered to sell 36 Rafale fighter jets to India for nothing less than $8.56 billion.

The Indian Air Force has stressed it needs to start replacing its ageing jet fleet from 2017 to effectively check the capabilities of Pakistan and China.

Dassault’s latest offer includes an offset clause of 50 percent which requires Dassault and Thales to invest in India’s defence and security sector. The price is a cut from the earlier price of $8.8 billion France offered two weeks ago.

France had earlier quoted $10 billion for the fighter jet for the government to government deal.

The negotiations will now only move forward after an Indian response to the offer. The two sides are also negotiating a five-year support package for the fighter jets, down from the ten-year package that was being discussed earlier. The weapons package will be signed separately as has been the norm but the original requirement has been pruned, Economic Times quoted official sources as saying Thursday.

Negotiations will only continue after the India government responds to the latest offer. Once the deal is finalised, the first batch of the fighter aircraft will be delivered to India in at least 18 months.

Indian Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar said in the Lower House last week during the calling attention motion over the controversial AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal had said, “We will reduce the deal value and we will save a lot. We will show them that we carved out a better deal that what the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was getting that time.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a visit to Paris last year confirmed India’s order of 36 read-to-fly jets.

Before that, the Defence Ministry had sanctioned the purchase of 120 planes, but the deal was scaled down dramatically after both sides were unable for years to agree on the unit price and the assembling of the planes in India.

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