Ahead of French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's visit, the government on Monday said that negotiations for procurement of Rafale fighter jets for Indian Air Force (IAF) will begin this month and the multi-billion dollar deal will be finalised "as early as possible".
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday asked Indian Air Force to focus on safety and conservation of available resources as he interacted with top commanders here just days after India decided to buy 36 Rafale jets.
Marking a breakthrough in the protracted talks in the French Rafale jet deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that India will purchase 36 of these fighter planes that are ready to fly, citing critical operational requirement of the IAF.
France on Friday announced an investment of 2 billion euros (about USD 1 billion) in India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited French companies to pump in money in technology in the fastest growing economy.
India and France on Friday signed 17 agreements, including on the stalled nuclear project in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with French President Francois Hollande.
With the multi-billion dollar contract for Rafale jets caught in the doldrums, the UK on Thursday hoped there would be an opportunity for the Eurofighter aircraft to get back into the race with a "very competitive bid".
India`s negotiations with French aviation major Dassault for 126 Rafale Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft for USD 20 billion "are progressing well" and the contract is likely "sooner than later in the current financial year (2014-15)" a top military commander has said.