Paris: Marking a breakthrough in the protracted talks in the French Rafale jet deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday 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 Hollande 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 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible under a government-to-government deal,” said Modi.
An agreement on proceeding 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 Areva and India’s Larsen and Toubro is aimed at cost reduction by increasing localisation, to improve financial viability of the Jaitapur project.
Another pact related to pre-engineering agreements between NPCIL and Areva in connection with studies intended to bring clarity on all technical aspects of the plant so all parties—Areva, Alstom and NPCIL—can firm up their price and optimise all provisions for risks still included at this stage in the costs of the project.
It will also enable transfer of technology and development of indigenous nuclear energy industry in India. France also informed India of its decision to implement a scheme for expedited 48-hour visa issuance for Indian tourists.
“There is no sphere where India and France are not cooperating. France is among India’s most valued friends,” said Modi. France also announced an investment of €2 billion (about $2.12 billion) in India as Modi invited French companies to pump in money in technology in the fastest growing economy. Inviting French investors, Modi said, “There is no bigger market than India. It is also the fastest growing economy since the last six months. Various rating agencies like World Bank and Moody’s have said in one voice that India is the fastest-growing nation.
“It is rare to find a country with a market, with the government determined on development and demographic dividend,” he said.