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Rafale deal: French defence minister to visit India again

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Jean-Yves Le DrianNew Delhi: French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit India soon as the two countries work towards finalising the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.

Defence sources said French Defence Minister is likely to arrive in India soon to carry forward the talks on the Rafale jets. They did not put a timeline to his visit.

Drian visted India last month also.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had last month said that talks would be completed in “2-3 months”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced his decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets during a visit to France in April, a deal worth an estimated $8 billion.

The government has set up a committee headed by Air Marshal S B P Sinha who is undertaking the government-to-government negotiations with France for procurement of Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.

India has decided to buy only 36 Rafale fighter jets scrapping the earlier plan to acquire 126 of the French aircraft on grounds of huge cost.

Parrikar had termed as “economically unviable” the previous UPA government’s $20 billion deal for purchase of the 126 Rafale fighter planes more than three years after France’s Dassault Aviation was declared the lowest bidder.

He has said the UPA deal for 126 Rafales was way too expensive and it would have hampered other modernisation plans of the Indian military.


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