“Direct route for strategic platforms”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his visit to France on Friday had announced direct purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft through a government-to-government deal as quickly as possible in view of the critical operational necessities of the Air Force. The two sides will now negotiate a technical agreement with favourable terms offered by the French government.

Talking about the status of the existing Request for Proposal (RFP), Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said: “A car cannot run on two paths simultaneously.”

Setting a precedent

Setting a precedent for major defence procurements in the future, Mr. Parrikar stated that the government-to-government route is better than the RFP path for acquisition of strategic platforms.

Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) negotiations which have been ongoing since 2012 with France have been stalled due to differences over terms and pricing. This, as the fighter strength of the Air Force dropped to 34 squadrons from the sanctioned 42 squadrons. The Request for Information (RFI) for the MMRCA was issued by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2007.

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