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France Ready to Provide Additional Rafale Jet to India, Defence Minister Parly Says

Sputnik News

Rishikesh Kumar

India signed an $8.7 billion contract with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets in 2016. The manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, has so far delivered 26 Rafales to the Indian Air Force and these jets have been deployed at two locations near the border with China.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly has offered India an additional Rafale fighter jet.

Parly, who is in New Delhi for the third Indo-France defence dialogue, said that the fact "strategic partners" France and India use the same aircraft is a "real asset and strength" for bilateral cooperation.

The French minister also indicated that industrial and technological partnerships will be an integral part of the bilateral defence cooperation, and said that France is pleased to learn that the Indian Air Force is "very satisfied with Rafale."

"We are very proud that despite COVID the 36 aircraft will be delivered on time according to the contract," the minister said.

France has already delivered 26 aircraft to the Indian Air Force - the other 10 will be delivered by the first half of 2022.

Earlier this month, France and the United Arab Emirates signed a contract for 80 Rafale fighter jets

Dassault Aviation, the French manufacturer of the Rafale jet, has already offered to transport the naval version of the Rafale-M to India in January 2022 to showcase its take-off capability as part of the Indian Navy's plan to acquire 57 multi-role carrier-based fighters, worth an estimated $7 billion. The Rafale-M will be tested at a facility INS Hansa in Goa.

Indian Navy carriers include the serving INS Vikramaditya and the soon-to-be commissioned INS Vikrant.

India's Air Force has a shortage of over 200 fighter jets. In October, Air Chief Marshal V. R. Chaudhuri said that the force's old fighter jets will eventually be phased out with upgrades.

The IAF will phase out over 100 Jaguar jets, approximately 50 Mirage jets, and about 60 MiG-29 fighter planes, and is hoping to buy 114 fighter jets made in India by a selected foreign manufacturer.

The Narendra Modi-led government signed the 36-jet Rafale deal with France in 2016 after a seven-year contract to provide 126 aircraft for the Indian Air Force did not materialise under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Despite several allegations of bribery and corruption in the deal, the government went ahead with the contract.

© Sputnik

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