India and France signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of nearly 7.87 billion euros (about Rs.59,000 cr).
Defence Minister Mr Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian signed the agreement at a ceremony in New Delhi.
The purchase of state-of-the-art Rafale jet caters to Indian Air Force's specific needs and will have a clear edge in aerial combat over Pakistan's F-16 jets. The aircraft will come equipped with 'beyond visual range' air-to-air missiles Meteor, with a range of nearly 150 km.
Defence Minister Mr Manohar Parrikar said, "Rafale is a potent aircraft for deep strike capabilities. It can move at high altitudes and has potential weapons with the most modern technology. It will add to the capability of the IAF".
French Defence Minister Le Drian added, "The Rafale is really the best fighter jet in the world. It is an omnirole aircraft capable of all kinds of missions."
The first ready-to-fly Rafales are expected to arrive by 2019 and India is set to have all 36 within six years.
The 36 Rafale procurement supports the 'Make in India' initiative of the Government of India through offsets having huge potential to generate direct and indirect employment opportunities in India.
- Hasibur Rahman
pix: GD Mehra and Vijay Kumar