New Delhi: India’s proposed purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition, announced by Prime Minster Narendra Modi in Paris last month, will be top on the talks agenda between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his visiting French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian here on Wednesday.

The formal discussions on purchase of Rafale will be as per the India-France Joint Statement issued during Modi’s visit to France last month. In the statement, India conveyed to France that in view of the critical operational necessity for multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF), the government of India would like to acquire 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible. 

Both sides agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft on terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway, the delivery would be in time-frame that would be compatible with the operational requirement of IAF; and that the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by IAF, and with a longer maintenance responsibility by France, Parrikar told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Le Drian will pursue with Parrikar the discussions on security and defence held during the official visit to France of Modi from April 9-12 and his meeting with President Francois Hollande, including negotiations for the acquisition of the Rafale fighter aircraft. 

The aim is to launch negotiations pursuant to the Indo-French Joint Statement of April 10, said a statement from the French embassy here.

Le Drian is to be accompanied by senior officials as well as a team from Dassault, the manufacturer of Rafale. The Rafale deal is estimated to cost over five billion euros (around Rs.35,000 crore).

A bilateral government-to-government committee is to be set up to iron out details of the agreement.

Parrikar also told the Rajya Sabha that an Inter-Governmental Agreement has been signed with Russia for the design, development, and production of a prospective multirole fighter aircraft.

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