New Delhi: A deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France was "on course" and the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has given its 'go ahead' for further negotiations for the jets, official sources said on Tuesday. The council also cleared projects worth over Rs.13,000 crore.
The DAC, chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, met here on Tuesday, and was briefed by the negotiation committee about the progress in discussions on the Rafale purchase. Officials said the deal was "on course", and the negotiations will go on.
"The negotiation committee briefed the DAC about the progress so far," a ministry source said after the DAC meeting. "The DAC has given its go ahead to them." During his visit to France, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announced India will acquire 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible, and an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) was signed for supply of the aircraft.
The government has said the delivery would be in a time frame that would be compatible with the operational requirement of the Indian Air Force, and that the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by the IAF, and with a longer maintenance responsibility by France.
A negotiating team was constituted to negotiate the terms and conditions of the procurement of 36 Rafale jets and recommend a draft agreement. The meetings of the Indian negotiating team with the French side have commenced. As per reports, there were some hitches in the deal over the price and the offset rule, as per which the company would have to invest a part of the cost of the deal in the Indian industry.
Sources on Tuesday said there were "no roadblocks" in the deal. The DAC also cleared several other proposals, including one for purchasing four squadrons of Mi-17 V5 helicopters, to be bought off-the-shelf from Russia at Rs.6,966 crore. This will translate in around 48 helicopters.
Other proposals cleared include seven additional squadrons -- 14 firing units -- of Akash missiles for Rs.4,790 crore. The army got clearance for 120 Trolls, which will be bought from Russia and are used to blast mines ahead of tanks. A proposal for DRDO-designed 10 metre Short Span Bridges, which will be vehicle mounted, was also cleared at a cost of Rs.490 crore.
Approvals for the Indian Navy included eight Chetak helicopters from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited worth Rs.322 crore, nine tugboats worth Rs.300 crore, dockyard repair facility for Revathi radars and electronic warfare systems, worth over Rs.235 crore, and Rs.61 crore for telemedicine systems for naval ships. The Indian Air Force also got approval for four ATC radars, worth Rs.228 crore.