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Negotiations moving in right direction: France on Rafale deal

Dassault Rafale.

NEW DELHI (PTI): France on Wednesday voiced satisfaction over the ongoing negotiations for the finalisation of the multi-billion dollar contract for the 126 medium multi- role combat aircraft (MMRCA), saying it was moving in the "right direction".

French envoy to India Francois Richier played down the delay in the finalisation of the much-delayed contract for the supply of 126 Rafale fighter planes, saying that such "complex" issues does take time.

"The negotiations are progressing well," Richier said, recalling that there were statements made by Indian defence officials in the recent past about the progress and also recent visit of CEO of French Dassault Aviation SA, the makers of Rafale.

"It is a signal that it is moving in the right direction," he said at a press conference.

Asked about the recent reported comments of Russian envoy to India that Rafale "will be swatted like mosquito in an August night" by Russia's Sukhoi-27, the French Ambassador said he would not like to make any remarks on comments by a "grumpy competitor".

The French firm was selected in January 2012 by India for supplying 126 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft to the Air Force.

The negotiations have lately slowed down over some issues, including the imposition of liquidity damages or penalties for any delays in the supply of the aircraft to be manufactured in the country.

Playing down the delay, a French diplomat said, "The final negotiations for the upgradation of Mirage took three years.

This is a very big contract, complex," adding, "It takes time."

He refused to put a timeline for the final signing of contract.

The cost of the biggest-ever single deal is also likely to come up for discussion during the two sides. India had selected the French Rafale combat aircraft after an over five- year process where five other firms manufacturing American F/A-18 and F-16, Russian MiG 35, European Eurofighter and Swedish Saab Gripen were also in the race.

However, the process of finalising the contract has been quite slow and still the role and responsibilities to be shared between the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Dassault Aviation have not been fully agreed upon.

Out of the 126 aircraft to be manufactured for the IAF, 18 are proposed to be supplied directly by the French from their facilities in France whereas the remaining 108 are planned to be built in HAL facilities in Bangalore.


India  Air Force  Rafale  France  

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