France cuts Rafale orders, pushes for MMRCA
While negotiations for the MMRCA trudge on in what France is hoping will be the final leg leading to a contract, the country has whittled down orders on the Dassault Rafale amidst pressure on public spending. Sources say that while contract negotiations are indeed in their final phase, there remain significant hurdles to cross before a draft contract agree- ment is drawn up. France is understood to have sought assurance from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) last month that the contract award would not slip into the next fiscal, but such an assurance was not extended, as there is no legal provision to do so.
All that Defence Minister A.K. Antony told his visiting French counterpart was that India was as keen as France about an early conclusion of the deal, since it was extremely important to the IAF. France’s Dassault has had no choice now, however, but to increase its exposure to exports. Its other potential customers include Brazil, Qatar, UAE and Malaysia.