France wants In­dia to ex­er­cise Rafale op­tions im­me­di­ately

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE -

Dur­ing a two-day of­fi­cial visit to Paris ear­lier this month, Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sal­man Khur­shid was ap­prised of the French Government’s keen­ness that In­dia ex­er­cise op­tions for 63 ad­di­tional Das­sault Avi­a­tion Rafale fight­ers along­side the pri­mary un­der-ne­go­ti­a­tion con­tract for 126 jets un­der the medium multi-role com­bat air­craft (MMRCA) com­pe­ti­tion.

The 63 ad­di­tional jets are manda­to­rily avail­able to the MoD as part of a 50 per cent op­tions clause at­tached to the main agree­ment un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion. If the MoD de­cides to ex­er­cise op­tions, the ad­di­tional jets will be con­tracted un­der a sep­a­rate con­tract agree­ment, and not clubbed with the main agree­ment for 126 jets. It is un­der­stood that the is­sue came up in dis­cus­sions with French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius as well as with French Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande. Af­ter his meet­ing with the French For­eign Min­is­ter, Khur­shid is quoted to have said, “We know good French wine takes time to ma­ture and so do good con­tracts”, when asked about when a deal was ex­pected to be signed. Con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions are cur­rently on­go­ing. Re­cently, fol­low­ing queries raised by Das­sault Avi­a­tion, it was clar­i­fied in no un­cer­tain terms by the MoD that the Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Ltd would be the lead in­te­gra­tor of 108 Rafales in Bengaluru.

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