Paji, April 11: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday welcomed Prime Minister rendra Modi’s “extremely positive decision” to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets during his trip to France, saying a deal of such magnitude had not been signed for the last 17 years. “I welcome Modi’s decision. It was necessary and was the most urgent requirement,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of a book release function here. Modi and French President Francois Hollande signed a deal at their summit in Paris for purchasing the 36 Rafale jets from France in fly-away condition soon, citing “critical operatiol necessity”. The deal has been touted as a breakthrough in the much-delayed process of buying Rafale jets. Parrikar also said that the ‘Make in India’ campaign was a long-term solution and the need to purchase the 36 fighter jets was immediate. He said that a significant number of Indian Air Force planes were facing maintence issues and the purchase of the fighters would boost the morale of the force.
The defence minister said that the weightage of Modi’s “word” in the intertiol community had increased thanks to diplomatic initiatives taken by the prime minister. “I will give him 10 out of 10 marks for intertiol diplomacy,” he said.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had short listed Rafale for induction into its frontline combat fleet, replacing the ageing Soviet-era MiG-21 squadron but the deal did not materialise for long. The origil deal, with an estimated cost of $20 billion, was for delivery of 126 fighters, including 18 off-the-shelf by Dassault, and 108 to be manufactured in India under licensed production by the state-run Hindustan Aeroutics Ltd (HAL) over time, with 50 percent offset obligations to benefit the domestic aerospace industry. The IAF opted for the twin-engined Rafale in January 2012 over Eurofighter Typhoon of the European consortium EADS Cassidian after outsmarting F-16 of American Lockheed Martin, F/A-18 of Boeing, MiG-35 of Russian United Aircraft Corp and Swedish SAAB’s Gripen in a global competitive bid floated in August 2007.(IANS)