New Delhi: French President Francois Hollande, who will be commencing his three-day visit to India on Sunday, said the Rafale deal with India is on right track. Hollande, who will be the guest of honour at Republic Day on January 26, spoke about the Rafale fighter plane and said, “The multi-billion dollar Rafale jet deal is on right track but agreeing on technicalities will take some time.”
PM Modi, during his visit to France earlier in 2015, had announced that India would acquire 36 Rafale MMRCA, citing operational necessity of the Indian Air Force. Negotiations between India and France on closing the deal for 36 Rafale multi-role fighters are in their last, hectic phase. India and France are seeking simultaneous inking of the Inter-Government Agreement and Commercial Contract during President Francois Hollande’s visit on Republic Day.
“Agreeing on the technicalities of this arrangement obviously takes time, but we are on the right track,” Hollande said in an interview with the Press Trust of India news agency. The invitation for Hollande to be the chief guest at Tuesday’s Republic Day celebrations had raised hopes that the long drawn-out deal to buy the three dozen Rafale jets would finally be nailed down.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Paris last year that New Delhi had agreed to buy the jets as India looks to modernise its Soviet-era military, in part to keep up with neighbouring rivals Pakistan and China. In his interview, Hollande said that “the Rafale is a major project for India and France” that would “pave the way for an unprecedented industrial and technological cooperation” for the next four decades.