New Delhi, Aug 12 IANS | 4 months ago

The negotiation for Rafale aircraft is on, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said Tuesday.

The minister told the Rajya Sabha that Dassault Aviation of France, the original equipment maker of Rafale aircraft, had emerged as the lowest bidder for procurement of medium multi-role combat aircraft.

"Given the complexity of the procurement case, the process of negotiations with Dassault Aviation on various aspects of the commercial proposal and provisions of draft contract is on," Jaitley said.

Dassault Aviation won the contract to supply the fighter jets to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2012. However, the committee responsible for costs and contract is yet to finalise its report on the deal.

Rafale is a French twin-engine multi-role fighter aircraft, described by Dassault as an omnirole fighter.

It was one of the six fighter aircraft competing for the Indian MRCA competition for 126 multi-role fighters. Originally, the Mirage 2000 had been considered for the competition, but Dassault withdrew the Mirage in favour of the Rafale.

Under the proposed contract, 18 Rafales would be supplied to the IAF by 2015 in fly-away condition, while the remaining 108 would be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in India under transfer of technology agreements.

The deal was stalled from disagreements over the fighter production in India.

Dassault refused to take responsibility for the 108 HAL-manufactured Rafales as it had reservations about the ability of HAL to accommodate the complex manufacturing and technology transfers.

The Rafale aircraft is to replace IAF's ageing fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-27 combat planes, pivotal to maintain India's edge against Pakistan, according to military experts.

(Posted on 12-08-2014)

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