India to buy 36 Rafale jets

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Marking a breakthrough in the protracted talks in the French Rafale jet deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced that India will purchase 36 of these fighter planes that are ready to fly, citing critical operational requirement of the IAF.

The announcement was made by Modi at a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollange after their summit talks at Elysee palace.

India and France were locked in negotiations for three years over the purchase of 126 Rafale fighter jets valued at $12 billion but has been bogged down over cost and Dassault Aviation’s reluctance to stand guarantee for 108 planes to be made by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL).

“Keeping in mind critical operational necessity of fighter jets in India, I have talked to him (Hollande) and requested for 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible under government-to-government deal,” Modi said.

An agreement on proceeding forward on the stalled nuclear project in Jaitapur in Maharashtra was among the 17 pacts signed after the talks between Modi and Hollande.

The Jaitapur project, where French company Areva is to set up six nuclear reactors with total power generation capacity of about 10,000 MW, is stuck for long because of differences over the cost of electricity to be generated.

The agreement between India’s Larsen and Toubro and France’s AREVA is aimed at cost reduction by increasing localisation, to improve financial viability of Jaitapur project.

“India and France similarly views these challenges and that is why we will further strengthen our security ties,” he said.

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