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India approves purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets

The final deal is expected to be inked on September 23. The deliveries will start in 36 months and finished in 66 months from the date of contract. Photograph: (AFP)

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Sep 21, 2016, 09.53 PM (IST)
Indian cabinet on Wednesday cleared the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation, the fist fighter jet deal in 20 years. 

Under the deal, India will get 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition at the cost of Euros 7.8 billion. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to discuss the deal which is crucial to boost the Indian Air Force.

The announcement paves the way for signing of the mega deal with France. French defence minister Yves Le Drian is arriving on September 23 to finalise the deal.

The deliveries will start in 36 months and finished in 66 months from the date contract is inked.

The deal comes with a saving of nearly 750 million Euros than the earlier one, besides a 50 per cent offset clause. 

The jets come equipped with state-of-the-art missiles like Meteor and Scalp that will give the IAF a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal. 

The armaments cost about 710 million Euros while Indian specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet mounted displays, will cost 1700 million Euros. 

Besides other features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of the IAF is the Beyond Visual Range Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 kilometres.

Scalp, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 kilometres also gives the IAF an edge over its adversaries.

French President Francois Hollande Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had intervened in the troubled Rafale procurement last year, ordering government-to-government talks after commercial negotiations with Dassault had collapsed.

India's fighter aircraft fleet, comprising Russian, British and French planes, is down to 33 squadrons as against the air force's requirement of 45.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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