Written by Celso P. Santos exclusively for SouthFront; Edited by Yoana
India has agreed to pay $8.8 billion to France’s Dassault for 36 fighter jets, reports said on Friday, as sources from both countries hinted that the long-delayed deal to purchase the aircraft was imminent.
The purchase of the Rafale jets, first mooted in 2012 and signed off in January, has faced stumbling blocks over the price tag.
“The negotiations are in the final stages but nothing has been concluded so far,” an Indian defense official said.
NDTV broadcaster stated that India would pay $8.8 billion for the jets, adding that the final agreement is set to be signed in India in three weeks, but delivery of the aircraft will not take place for another 18 months.
The head of Dassault Aviation, Eric Trappier, said Wednesday that he hoped a final agreement would be reached in the coming days.
“I have high hopes that the contract will be signed soon,” he told France’s Radio Classique.
Both the French defense ministry refused commenting on the matter.
India entered exclusive negotiations on buying 126 Rafale fighters four years ago, but the number of planes was scaled back in tortuous negotiations over cost and assembly of the planes in India.
Technology transfer deal
The formal procurement pact is expected to be signed within three weeks, with initial deliveries of the jets are 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.
Dassault Rafale, Specifications
The Dassault Rafale is a twin-engine, multirole fighter aircraft. It’s designed and built by Dassault Aviation. The Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. Dassault refers the Rafale an “omnirole” aircraft.
- Crew: 1–2
- Length: 15.27 m (50.1 ft)
- Wingspan: 10.80 m (35.4 ft)
- Height: 5.34 m (17.5 ft)
- Wing area: 45.7 m² (492 ft²)
- Empty weight:
10,300 kilograms (22,700 lb)
9,850 kilograms (21,720 lb)
- Loaded weight: 15,000 kilograms (33,000 lb) ()
- Max. takeoff weight: 24,500 kilograms (54,000 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Snecma M88-2 turbofans
- Dry thrust: 50.04 kN (11,250 lbf) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 75.62 kN (17,000 lbf) each
- Fuel capacity: 4,700 kg (10,360 lb) internal