As India and France struggle to break the deadlock over the $20-billion Rafale fighter deal, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar reiterated on Tuesday that the contractual terms in the Request for Information and the pricing were “non-negotiable.”
“The pricing will be decided on the basis of the Request for Proposal,” he told presspersons outside Parliament.
However, on the guarantee clause, which had been an issue of contention between Dassault and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), he said the two firms had to sort it out.
These comments are significant in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to France next month. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is visiting France next week.
Mr. Parrikar indicated that the wait could not be “endless” and the decision would be “expedited.” The contract negotiation committee is expected to submit its report this month after which a final decision will be taken.
Rafale was short-listed in a medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contest in 2012 after a rigorous evaluation. The deal stipulates that of the 126 aircraft, 18 will come in flyaway condition from the manufacturer and the remaining would be built by HAL in India under transfer of technology.
The disagreement is over the delivery guarantee by Dassault for the HAL-made aircraft. The price too has shot up significantly with addition of lifecycle costs and transfer of technology.
On several occasions, officials have indicated that if Dassault does not adhere to contract requirements, the deal might be off. The French side is keen to wrap up the negotiations before Mr. Modi’s visit
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