The government on Wednesday cleared proposals worth over $3 billion for upgrading the fleet of 51 Mirage 2000 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
As per the proposals, French firms Dassault and Thales will upgrade the aircraft, which will add 20-25 years to the life of the Mirages, inducted by the IAF in the mid-80s.
“The proposals related to upgrade of the Mirage 2000 were cleared by a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS),” a Defence Ministry official told PTI in New Delhi.
Two different proposals, one for the upgrade of systems of the aircraft and the other for over 400 MICA missiles for the upgraded fleet, were placed before the CCS.
Under the deal, the French firms will help in upgarding the avionics, navigation systems, mission computers, electronic warfare systems and radars bringing the aircraft to the Mirage-2000-5 standards.
The French companies will have to invest over $900 million into the Indian defence sector as defence offsets.
As per the Indian defence offsets policy, foreign vendors bagging deals worth over Rs. 300 crore have to invest at least 30 per cent of the worth of the deal back into the Indian defence, civilian aerospace and homeland security sectors.
The deal had been hanging fire for the last five years as the two sides have been involved in extensive negotiations including the price of upgrade quoted by the French side.
As per the agreement, India will first send two of its aircraft to France for upgrades and thereafter the rest would be upgraded at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited facilities in New Delhi, company sources said.