Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the negotiations to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets were “on path of coming to conclusion”.
Both sides hoped to wrap up the strategic order during French President Francois Hollande’s visit for the Republic Day celebrations in January this year, but bargaining on price stalled a final result.
“When we have waited for 15-16 years… I think we are now on path of coming to conclusion,” Parrikar told reporters in the Bengaluru after witnessing the inaugural flight session of indigenously built aircraft Hindustan Turbo Trainer 40 (HTT 40).
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HTT-40 is a new basic training aircraft developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force.
Parrikar said the two sides were yet to arrive at a decision on pricing.
“It’s a big purchase we have to be careful and every 0.1 percent savings itself is a hundreds of crores. So let the exercise be done with some patience,” he said.
Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened in the troubled Rafale procurement last year, ordering government-to-government talks after commercial negotiations with Dassault had collapsed.
The leaders agreed to scale back an original plan to buy 126 Rafale planes to just 36 in fly-away condition to meet the Indian Air Force’s urgent needs as it faces an assertive China and long-time foe Pakistan.