India, France to finalize Rafale deal ahead of Hollande visit

By Ryan Maass   |   Jan. 8, 2016 at 12:55 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Indian and French government officials have reportedly finalized negotiations for the estimated $9 billion sale of 36 French Rafale fighter jets to India.

The agreement is likely to be signed before the arrival of French president François Hollande on January 25. During the visit, Hollande is scheduled to attend India's showcase Republic Day military Parade the following day, according to IHS Janes.

"A high-level French government team is in town to finalise the agreement and also discuss future scope of military cooperation," defense sources told Hindustan Times.

The Indian Air Force has been eyeing the twin-engine aircraft for over 10 years. Lengthy negotiations followed, partly over reinvestment of some proceeds to India and technology transfer agreements between Dassault and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which was to manufacture the aircraft in India after an initial delivery from Dassault. An agreement was scheduled to be signed in late 2015, though issues including weapon technology and India's plans to set up two bases for the aircraft further delayed the signing.

The French Rafale is manufactured by Paris-based defense contractor Dassault Aviation. The jet was designed to be a multirole fighter, fit for air defense, air sovereignty missions, reconnaissance, ground force support, and deep strike missions.

The aircraft is armed with a GIAT 30/M791 autocannon in addition to air-to-air, air-to-ground, and nuclear deterrence missiles.

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