New Delhi: The Indian Navy is likely to see “progress” in the procurement of Rafale fighter jets for its warships and Scorpene submarines as the talks for these will be firmed up during the upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India as the Republic Day chief guest. President Macron will be having a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the visit.
Both the deals were discussed earlier this year when PM Modi visited France in July. Prior to that visit, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, approved the purchase of the 26 Rafale Marine (Rafale-M) jets that will be deployed on aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya.
This comes after the Navy opted for Rafale-M over Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet in a tightly contested bid. The Navy currently operates Russian MiG 29K for INS Vikrant and it wants to go for a completely indigenous fighter jet in the future. Therefore, the Rafale M, which will be imported from France, will be in use on a temporary basis.
France has already responded to the proposal made by the Navy with the price bids for the 26 jets and the three Scorpène submarines. A decision has been taken to expedite the evaluation process and launch the negotiations for a deal that is expected to be worth around $5 billion. The contract is expected to be signed once the price range is finalised later this year, sources involved in the process said.