As India and France sit down to finalise a government-to-government deal on Rafale jets clause-by-clause from now on, the 1982 Main Mirage Agreement that the two once signed to procure the Mirage aircraft, also from Dassault, may be referred to on instances. The Indian and the French defence ministers on Wednesday agreed to set up teams to sign an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) to procure 36 Rafale jets, announcement for which was made during PM Narendra Modi’s France visit last month.
“As per the discussion that took place today, the Dassault team will be providing technical assistance to the teams set up by India and France… The French side is already in the process of nominating its members,” said an official.
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According to the official, what is likely to help accelerating the process is the fact that the deal has been under negotiation for over three years now. “The papers are ready. The facts, the specifications are on table… now it is just about signing the IGA. And we have had the experience of procuring the Mirage aircraft in 1982 from France. Unlike the US — where the FMS (foreign military sales) route dictates terms, there is no FMS route with France. So the IGA assumes importance,” the official said.
The deal to buy 36 Rafale jets in flyaway condition was announced by India during Modi’s visit to France in April. Days after the announcement, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar indicated that the ongoing deal to purchase 126 Rafale jets from Dassault was almost over. The next logical step is to thus arrive at an IGA, which according to the defence procurement procedure, “would not classically follow the standard procurement procedure and the standard contract document”.
Instead, it gives India the opportunity to negotiate hard with the French to arrive at what the defence procurement procedure calls “mutually agreed provisions by the Governments of both the countries”.