Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Emmanuel Macron. (File Photo/PTI)
France is likely to offer 36 more Rafale fighters aircraft to India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Paris visit for the G-7 Summit on Thursday, according to a report published in the Economic Times. Citing sources, the report said that France may offer two more squadrons (36 planes) of Rafale jets to India, which will improve the Indian Air Force's depleting combat force levels.
The deal of 36 more Rafale fighter planes is also said to be cheaper than the 2016 deal which was signed for a whopping Rs 58,000 crore as India has already made the payment for fixed costs covering enhancements, training equipment and infrastructure.
PM Modi, who arrived in Paris earlier in the day, is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron today. During the meeting, the two leaders will have detailed discussions on issues of bilateral interests, including defence and maritime cooperation.
Delivery of first Rafale jet to India likely next month
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and IAF Chief BS Dhanoa are scheduled to visit France on September 20 to receive the first bath of Rafale fighter aircrafts from French firm Dassault Aviation. According to news agency ANI, citing defence officials, a large Indian contingent led by Defence Minister is being sent by the Centre to receive the fighter jet.
The Rafale aircraft, which is being supplied to India, will come equipped with Meteor missile, SCALP ground attack missiles with a range of up to 300 kms. Upon receiving the aircrafts, Air Force will begin extensive trials of the combat fighter jets before actually inducting them in the service next year.
India had signed an agreement with the French government to purchase two squadrons (36) of the twin-engine multi-role aircraft, capable of delivering nuclear warheads, and decided to base one each on its western and eastern fronts with Pakistan and China.