Jul 25, 2013 brahmand.com
NEW DELHI (PTI): Deals expected to be worth over Rs 80,000 crore including supply of 126 Rafale combat aircraft are likely to be high on agenda of French Defence Minister Jaen Yves Le Drian during his three-day visit to India from Friday.
India and France have been busy in negotiating the 126 combat aircraft deal for which the French combat aircraft was selected last year defeating its five other European and American rivals and over Rs 30,000 crore Maitri surface-to-air missile projects.
During the visit of the French Minister, the two sides are expected to discuss the two deals in his meetings with Defence Minister A K Antony and other senior military leadership along with ways of strengthening bilateral ties, Ministry officials said here.
The militaries of the two countries have close ties and hold regular exercises with each other. The Indian Army will be visiting a French military base in September for a company-level exercise, they said.
The French Minister will also visit the Gwalior-based Maharajpur airbase, which is home to the French origin Mirage 2000 aircraft.
The Rafale aircraft deal, which is expected to be worth over Rs 50,000 crore, has been moving at its natural pace and had seen hiccups when the French side asked the Defence Ministry to define the role of HAL.
The deal is not expected to be finalised before the end of this year, officials said.
In the recent times, France has been awarded several key tenders by India including the supply of six Scorpene submarines to the Navy and the multi-billion dollar 126 combat aircraft deal.
The contract worth over Rs 11,000 crore for upgrading the fleet of Mirage 2000 aircraft was also awarded to French firm Dassault Aviation.