French Rafale Jet Fighter Deal Yet to Cross First Hurdle in India

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The ongoing negotiations between India and France on the purchase of 36 French Rafale fighter planes by India is still at its nascent stage.

Despite a number of agreements already put in place, a French deal to sell 36 Rafale fighter jets to India is encountering difficulties.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that, “Except for the financial aspects, we have an inter-governmental agreement on the 36 Rafale jets. We will resolve the financial aspects soon,” during a joint briefing with French President Francois Hollande when the later visited India in January this year. However, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar’s statement in the Parliament on Tuesday revealed that while the financial aspect continues to be shrouded in controversy, even the technical aspect of the agreement is yet to be fully sorted out.

The ongoing negotiations on the purchase of 36 French Rafale fighter planes by India is still at its nascent stage. In a marked departure from the mainstream hype, Defense Minister Parrikar said in Parliament, “the Ministry of Law & Justice has made certain observations and the same will be adequately taken into account while finalizing the IGA, which is still under negotiations.”

Though the Defense Minister did not read out in detail the observations of the Law Ministry, his statement was a clear sign that technical aspects of the deal have not yet taken shape. According to some sources, the Law Ministry has advised that India should include the French government in any breach of supply contract made by French companies. Secondly, for any disputes in the future, any arbitration should take place in India in place of Switzerland as proposed by France. Thirdly, the liability clause should be more stringent which is currently in favor of France.

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Nevertheless, Mr Parrikar did clarify that contentious issues remain to be sorted out. “India and France have agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement on the supply of 36 Rafale Aircraft. Negotiations on the terms and conditions of the said supply, including total cost, actual delivery timelines and guarantee period have not been concluded.”

Meanwhile, the Indian government has accepted that various foreign companies, including Boeing, are interested in manufacturing fighter aircrafts under the Make in India campaign.

 

 

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