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Wide ranging defence deals on agenda during PM's France visit

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The two countries will discuss several defence deals during the PM's visit to Paris.

NEW DELHI (BNS): As India plans to modernize its defence forces, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s day-long visit to France will see a wide range of defence issues being discussed between the two countries.

Defence Secretary Vijay Singh will accompany the Prime Minister to Paris on Monday during which bilateral defence ties, including a deal to upgrade the Indian Air Force’s Mirage 2000 fleet of fighter aircraft, are likely to come up.

According to a report in The Hindu, the Defence Ministry had issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to French companies for upgrading the Mirage fighter jets for which negotiations over cost were going on. Now, the process was nearing its end, the daily, quoting Defence Ministry sources, said.

Besides, the IAF’s plans to acquire 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft is likely to be discussed as French company Dassault aviation is among the six contenders eying the $10-$12 dollar deal.

The EADS Eurocopter is also among the five contenders for the 197 light utility aircraft the IAF has decided to procure.

The French government has offered its technology in developing and producing short range surface-to-air missile in India as also the development of Kaveri engine. This is in addition to the six French Scorpene submarines being built at the Mazagoan docks in Mumbai for the Indian Navy.

Bilateral defence ties between New Delhi and Paris have increased over the past few years. Since India is planning to spend a whopping € 5 billion to € 6 billion on military procurement purposes, French/European companies are eying a pie in the defence deals, the report said.

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