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Fighter aircraft deal with France delayed, talks on

New Delhi, April 5: While Pakistan manages to get fresh supply of arms from US, India's biggest defence deal for procuring 126 Rafale combat aircraft is expected to be delayed.

Rafale had edged out five other aircraft including American F-16 and F-18, Russian MiG 35 and European Eurofighter to bag the contract.

The recent visit of French President François Hollande does not seem to have removed the differences between India and French firm Dassault Aviation over certain contractual obligations. A high-level negotiations have begun today.

At the core of the problem is about the contract itself. Dassault has demanded two separate contracts to be signed, which includes one for the 18 aircraft to be built by the firm in France and the other for the 108 aircraft which are to be integrated in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Some of the irritants began to surface soon after the Rafale fighter jet was shortlisted by the IAF in 2012.

The Dassault Aviation had questioned about the capabilities and the role of HAL in the contract for 126 Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA). However, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier had, recently, cleared the cloud over HAL, and stated that the HAL would be its main partner in the contract and there was no confusion on the issue.

Meanwhile, the base price for the deal (about $ 15 to $ 20 billion) and contractual negotiations are underway to determine the final amount to be paid by India for the aircraft.

With PTI inputs


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