India and France to set up an expert panel to push Rafale jet deal
India and France are likely to set up a joint committee to firm up the process of defence agreement signed between the two countries recently. The committee comprising representatives from both the countries will work towards the operationalisation of a deal agreed between the two countries over supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets to India during the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister to France, says the defence news report. And, the information regarding the constitution of the panel for the committee will likely be announced during the upcoming visit of Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Defence Minister, to India on Wednesday. The joint committee will further be instructed to ensure the early conclusion of the final negotiations regarding the contract (by the end of July), so that a formal contract would be signed at the earliest and the two-year deadline for the delivery of fighters is met, it added. Meanwhile, followed by the government’s move to finalise terms to complete the first phase of the deal for supplying 36 jets to Indian Air Force, the French aviation company, Dassault Aviation is all set to identify Indian partners, mostly from the private sector, for the mega contract. Under this move, the French defence supplier is also likely to set up its base in India for augmenting its existing production line in the country. India is keen on setting up joint ventures with private firms under its new “directed offsets” policy that is being formulated, say the sources. The local partners being considered by the French defence supplier include Tata Advanced Systems Limited, Dynamatics, Taneja Aerospace, L&T and Reliance Defence Systems, among others. However, the decision is still awaited on how the Indian side wants the contract to be executed and also regarding the listing of partners to be included under joint ventures. A confirmation on the selection of partners and the preparation of the firms’ list will be drawn up after a meeting between the two defence ministers scheduled on Wednesday.
May 5, 2015 | 5:20 pm IST.