NEW DELHI, April 15 (UPI) -- Indian defense officials have agreed to an $8.8 billion deal to buy 36 Rafale jet fighters from French military aviation firm Dassault.
The formal procurement pact is expected to be signed within three weeks, with initial deliveries of the jets to begin in 18 months according to reports by Indian news outlet NDTV.
The sale had been expected to be completed earlier this year, ahead of a planned visit to India by French president François Hollande
French military officials had initially requested $12 billion for the 36 multi-mission Rafale jet fighters, sought by New Delhi to modernize its air forces in the face of growing military threats from Pakistan and China.
France has also reportedly agreed to invest up to $3 billion in technology transfers to India as part of the Rafale deal.
Early negotiations had stalled over disagreements concerning technology transfer agreements between Dassault and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., which was to manufacture the aircraft in India after an initial delivery from Dassault.