Rafale deal: DAC happy with progress in negotiations

Signaling that the deadlock in talks over the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets has been resolved, the Defence Acquisition Council on Tuesday expressed satisfaction at the progress made and asked the Indian negotiating team to "go ahead" regarding the deal.

New Delhi: Signaling that the deadlock in talks over the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets has been resolved, the Defence Acquisition Council on Tuesday expressed satisfaction at the progress made and asked the Indian negotiating team to "go ahead" regarding the deal.

This means that a government-to-government agreement between India and France is likely to be signed soon to pave the way for the final contract for the fighter jets.

The defence ministry's top acquisition council, which met here this evening under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, also cleared a Rs 6,966 crore deal for the purchase of 48 Mi17-V5 helicopters from Russia.

Further, approval was given for the purchase of seven additional squadrons of Akash missiles for the air force and eight Chetak helicopters for the navy.

However, the DAC did not take a decision on the navy's proposal to acquire over 100 utility helicopters. Neither did it take a decision on going ahead with P75I submarine tenders worth over Rs 60,000 crore.

On the the Rafale fighter jets, defence ministry sources said that "the negotiating committee apprised the DAC about the progress made so far. The DAC asked it to go ahead and proceed".

Defence sources said this means that the deadlock has been broken. India's insistence on 50 per cent off-set clause, tweaking of weaponry technology and plans to set up two bases for Rafale fighter jets were some of the issues which had cropped up during the recent talks that began after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to acquire 36 Rafales during his trip to France in April.

Interestingly, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was expected to arrive tonight, but his trip has been delayed. Though defence ministry officials were tight-lipped on it, sources said he would be visiting soon. 

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