In the last days of its tenure, the UPA-II government has reached the crucial “work share agreement” with French firm Dassault for supply of 126 Rafale fighter jets to India. While a deal is expected to be signed only later this year, it is learnt that the two sides have agreed on the pact to operationalise the multi-billion dollar pact.
This is being seen as a “major development”, since the two sides have agreed on one of the major pacts to implement the deal after almost two years of zeroing in on the French defence major. The two sides are also working on an agreement for a sovereign guarantee that Dassault will supply, service and maintain the Rafales over the next 40 years.
Overruling concerns raised by Dassault on Hindustan Aeronotics Limited as a partner, it has been decided that HAL will carry out 70 per cent of the work on the 108 aircrafts made in India. The remaining 30 per cent will be done by Dassault. The first batch of 18 MMRCA planes will be fully manufactured in France and will be brought to India in “fly-away” condition.
While Indian officials confirmed the development on Monday here, the head of French defence procurement agency Laurent Collet-Billon had indicated this a radio station in France (Europe1) a couple of weeks ago.
On February 19, Collet-Billon had said, “This phase of identifying partners has been completed, so there is an agreement between Dassault and its chief Indian industrial partner, HAL.”