Deal to sell Rafale jets to India not yet done: French Defence Minister
French Defence Minister said on Thursday that the deal to sell Rafale combat jets to India is not yet done.
New Delhi: Contrary to reports in the national media that India and France were closing in on deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets, French Defence Minister was on Thursday quoted as saying that nothing has been finalised as yet.
Deal to sell Rafale jets to India not yet done, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was quoted as saying by Reuters News agency.
The statement comes days Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar expressed confidence that India and France were close to a deal to buy 36 combat planes from Dassault.
Parrikar made the statement after months of wrangling over price and other terms of the sale.
Importantly, French President Francois Hollande is also due in New Delhi this month as a guest of honour at a Republic Day Parade and there are intense speculations that two sides will seal the pact for the Rafale fighters either just before he arrives or during the visit.
The Defence Ministry had originally cleared the purchase of 126 Rafale planes which was later scaled back to 36 in 2015 after the two sides could not agree on unit price and local assembly of the aircraft.
"It's closer to completion," Manohar Parrikar said without focussing on any further details.
Indian Air Force eyeing the French fighter jets as it desperately wants to replace its ageing squadrons of Soviet-era warplanes to face a two-front threat from China and Pakistan.
Under the new deal that India and France are trying to seal, the planes will be brought off the shelf.
New Delhi is hoping the bulk of the air force fleet will be made up by an indigenous fighter that has been three decades in the making.