France cuts Rafale or­ders, pushes for MMRCA

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

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.

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