India to buy only 36 French Rafale jets, citing high cost
Iran Press TV
Sun May 31, 2015 4:8PM
India says it will purchase only 36 Rafale warplanes from France due to high price tag, dashing France's hopes for a much more lucrative deal.
Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday that the fighter jets are "way too expensive," adding that the government's original plan to purchase 126 aircraft from the French arms maker Dassault was 'economically unviable and not required.'
'We are not buying the rest. We are only buying the... 36,' Parrikar was quoted by the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency as saying.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced last month during a visit to France that New Delhi was ordering 36 of the 'ready to fly' warplanes.
The estimated $5.5-billion purchase deal followed years of intensive negotiations.
The agreement, however, fell far short of earlier proposals for India to purchase 126 of the jet fighters after exhaustive negotiations for the deal were mired over costs and assembly guarantees.
Meanwhile, Parrikar said a committee set up to nail down the details of purchase deal would complete its task within the next two to three months.
India has lately launched a massive military modernization scheme worth nearly $100 billion in a bid to keep up with its rival neighbors China and Pakistan.
Since taking power just a year ago, the government of Prime Minister Modi, a hardline nationalist, has approved a series of arms deals that had stalled during the rule of the previous left-leaning Congress party.
Modi also wants to end India's status as the world's number one importer of military hardware and seeks to have 70 percent of such equipment manufactured domestically by the turn of the decade.
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