France wants India to exercise Rafale options immediately
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.