Rafale deal to give India aerial edge, additional benefits

Rafale deal to give India aerial edge, additional benefits

New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) The Indo-French deal for 36 Rafale multi-role combat jets, inked between Defence Ministers Manohar Parrikar and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, will ensure some major concessions and special discount for India, officials said here on Friday.

Sources said along with the 36 French fighters, India-specific enhancements and modern air-to-air missiles will give India a clear edge in aerial combat over Pakistan.

The deal signed on Friday would help India save about 750 million euros, following intense negotiations by interlocutors after the Modi government took steps to rework the deal.

Rafale jets as strategic weapons with the Indian Air Force would include Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km, said to be much higher capability than 80 km range of such weaponry with Pakistan, sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s plans to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in fly-away condition during his trip to France last year.

There is also additional offset clause which is expected to help Indian businesses.

According to sources, three concessions worked out now would include free training for nine Indian Air Force personnel, including three pilots, besides additional guarantee for 60 hours of usage of training aircraft for Indian pilots.

Another clause makes it clear that in case the “Indian infrastructure is not ready for storing” the weapons, there will be guarantee for free storage facilities for six months in France itself.

The better weapons package and free training facilities as worked out would be worth 100 million euros.

“There will be additional guarantee for Air Force, an additional 60 hours for the trainer version of Rafale fighters, and a concession to keep the weapons storage in France for an additional six months without any charge,” the official said.

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