For PM Narendra Modi, 36 ready-to-fly Rafale jets wrapped in Paris red carpet

The original tender had proposed the purchase of 18 fighter jets in “fly-away” condition.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni , Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: April 11, 2015 10:41 am
rafale jets, modi in france, Narendra Modi, Francois Hollande, France, Paris, India Rafale jet, France Rafale jet, india news, nation news, world news, national news PM Narendra Modi, French President Francois Hollande, defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, mayor Anne Hidalgo and foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius enjoy a tour on the Seine River, in Paris on Friday. (Source: Reuters)

Keeping in mind the “critical operational necessity” for multi-role combat aircraft in the Indian Air Force, India on Friday asked France to supply 36 Rafale fighter jets in “fly-away” condition “as quickly as possible” — double the number proposed in the original tender.

The unusual request was a departure from the past with New Delhi approaching Paris directly this time, independent of the ongoing negotiations with Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived in Paris on Thursday, and French President Francois Hollande agreed to sign an “inter-governmental agreement” for the aircraft under terms “better than” those being currently negotiated with Dassault.

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The original tender had proposed the purchase of 18 fighter jets in “fly-away” condition — aircraft ready for immediate flight — and 108 to be made operational by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under a transfer of technology clause.

After holding bilateral talks with Hollande at the historic Elysee Palace, Modi said, “I have spoken to him and requested for 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible under a government-to-government deal.”

modi in france textIndia and France were locked in negotiations for three years over the purchase of 126 Rafale fighter jets valued at US$12bn but the talks had been bogged down over costs and Dassault’s reluctance to stand guarantee for the 108 planes to be made by the state-run HAL.

“The two leaders agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft on terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway; the delivery would be in time-frame that would be compatible with the operational requirement of IAF,” a joint statement by the two sides said.

“The aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by Indian Air Force, and with a longer maintenance responsibility by France,” it added.

The IAF, which is down to 34 operational squadrons from the stipulated 42, desperately needs the Rafale aircraft to bridge the operational gap between the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and the frontline Sukhoi fighters.

Nuclear tie-up

New Delhi and Paris also moved towards setting up a nuclear power plant in Jaitapur by inking two pacts aimed at an early operationalisation of the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement.

The first was a MoU between L&T and the French company Areva aimed at improving the financial viability of the project. “It will also enable transfer of technology and development of indigenous nuclear energy industry in India,” the agreement note said.

The second related to “pre-engineering agreements” between NPCIL and Areva, which aims to bring clarity on all technical aspects of the plant.

The Jaitapur project, where Areva is to set up six nuclear reactors with a total power generation capacity of about 10,000 MW has been stuck for long because of differences over the cost of electricity to be generated.

“The two leaders urged their atomic energy establishments to lay an ambitious foundation for the future of India-France civil nuclear cooperation, including a wide range of subjects, including in the area of civil nuclear liability,” the joint statement said.

The two countries also signed about 15 agreements covering various sectors, including space, tourism, culture, railways, sports, skill development, science and technology. Later, Modi and Hollande went for a boat ride on The Seine, which was labelled “naav pe charcha”.

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  1. M
    Apr 11, 2015 at 7:52 pm
    Cost if 7.5 billion for just 36 aircraft is comparable to cost of f22 aircraft .may be cost is high due to double kickback one to NDA and one to upa
    1. M
      Apr 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm
      Une victoire pour Francois Hollande! Une exellente nouvelle pour l'industie francaise de l'armement, pour l'economie tricoloure et pour l'emploi. Translated from Le Figaro: Victory for president Hollande, Best news for french industry of defense, french economy and french employment! Great news for French indeed, for India, well... Someone just went to Paris on shopping spree and spend 4.2b bucks
      1. K
        Apr 11, 2015 at 6:08 am
        Are we not tired of this joker photoshopped photos? How does this help 10,000 farmers who commit suicide a year? Is this person elected as the foreign minister or someone who should look after domestic interests?
        1. K
          Apr 11, 2015 at 6:58 am
          Can someone tell the joker that Press Releases must be given when you sell something significant, and not when buying something significant? Look at the hard-earned money of poor Indians being paid by the joker to others? As if this is not bad enough, the shameless joker gives Press Releases with his photoshopped images. Can it get any more disgusting than this?
          1. D
            Dharam pal
            Apr 11, 2015 at 2:03 pm
            It is diplomacy at its best if the facts given in the report are an indication. If this is adjustable in the " Make India Programme" Modi will certainly be rated as the most successful PM in foreign policy. See this in conjunction with the statements of French Government on Lakhvi. Certainly this man has chalked out his aims remarks about printing of well. India India and INDIA everywhere. Last evening I saw a news about his views on printing our currency only on paper and with ink manufactured in India. how deep he goes and what a good solution to end menace of fake currency he has suggested. Give him a little more time and support he will take the country to new heights.
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