French Defense Minister Set to Garner New Contract for Rafale Jets in India

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Aiming to bag an additional order of Rafale fighter jets from the Indian Armed forces, French Defense Minister Florence Parley is visiting India next week. He will be meeting top political figures and officials of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Parley will be accompanied by a delegation of defense officials and French defense industry representatives.

The French delegation is scheduled to meet with Indian defense ministry officials on October 26, when potential defense projects under Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative will be primarily discussed.

The discussion is expected to include a proposal by French firm Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale double engine fighter jet and Falcon 2000 business jets, about setting up a manufacturing unit in India.

Sources told Sputnik that the discussions will focus on clearing the hurdles in defense cooperation including technology transfer; primarily from Safran, to several long-delayed Indian projects.

We are waiting for the final words on the jet engine program from the Indian side for a long time. It has not been moved as per our expectation,

a French firm official told to Sputnik in New Delhi.

Safran, Thales, and several other French firms are expecting major collaboration with Indian counterparts on the approximately $4 billion Rafale offset contract. Safran hopes to bag a contract for its high-power Aneto engine from India’s state-owned HAL for its 12-ton multi-role helicopter program. Thales is also hoping to make a major push for its proposal to supply the $1.8 billion AESA radar systems for India’s Tejas light combat aircraft.

The Indian Air Force is also negotiating with France to procure 36 of its grounded Jaguar fighter aircraft to improve the serviceability of the six squadrons of the Jaguar deep penetration bombers which are in dire need of spare parts.

Parley’s visit will also mark a major precursor visit before French President Emmanuel Macron’s arrival in India on December 8 for a three-day visit.

During her stay in India, Parley will also launch Dassault-Reliance production facility in Nagpur which is part of India’s largest greenfield aerospace project. Apart from the Dassault-Reliance offset facility, the park is also home to the proposed facilities of Thales, DAHER, and Strata amongst others.

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