New Delhi: A high-level Indian defence team will visit France next week to review the ongoing production of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft and to formalise the modalities for the payment of the second tranche due this year in the euro 7.878 billion deal.
Defence sources also said the first Rafale fighter is expected to come to India a few months earlier than the scheduled date in 2019.
A team comprising of senior IAF and Defence Ministry officials will travel to France next week to work out the modalities of the payment for the second tranche, the sources said, adding the delegation will also visit the production line in Bordeaux.
The Rafale fighters planes, aimed as a strategic asset against China, will be based in Sarsawa in Uttar Pradesh and Hasimara in West Bengal.
India and France had on September 23, 2016, signed the approximately Rs 59,000 crore deal for the Rafale jets, equipped with latest missiles and weapon system besides multiple India-specific modifications.
The ‘vanilla price’ (just the aircraft alone) will cost about 91 million euros each for a single seater and about 94 million euros for a two-seater trainer aircraft.
The deal, the first fighter plane contract in 20 years, comes with a saving of nearly 750 million euros besides a 50 per cent offset clause after several rounds of negotiations.
The 50 per cent offset clause means that Indian businesses, both big and small, will gain work to the tune of over three billion euros.
These combat aircraft, delivery of which will start in 36 months and will be completed in 67 months from the date the contract was inked, comes equipped with state-of-the-art missile weaponry.