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Rafale deal likely by year-end: IAF chief

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NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: In a bid to bolster India’s defense prowess, IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, on Saturday expressed hope that the negotiations for purchasing 36 Rafale jets from France would conclude by the year-end.

Mentioning that the negotiations for the deal, finalized during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s France visit in April, was progressing well, he said, “I am hopeful that the negotiations for the deal will not go beyond this year.”

Speaking at the annual press conference ahead of Air Force Day on October 8, he said, “it would take two to three years for the first of the two Rafale squadrons to be operational.”

He also said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) required at least six squadrons of medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), which would translate into over 100 jets, and that the Rafale was a good follow-on option. But the government would take a final decision on this.

“Definitely, we would like to have MMRCA variety of aircraft. At least about six squadrons to my mind. Let us see, there may be some other alternatives as well,” ACM Raha said.

Asked whether the additional four squadrons of aircraft would be Rafales or there was a possibility of other players getting into play, Raha said, “I may wish to have Rafale. But there are equally good aircraft. So if the deal is good and the government decides we need to have six of similar squadrons of MMRCAs.”

“I want the capability of Rafale-type aircraft. So, the government will have a look at it and based on urgency and the type of contract is signed with Dassault Aviation, further decisions may be taken by the government. I cannot predict,” he said.

The air chief admitted that the IAF was short in strength.

“We are currently short in strength… we need to replace many squadrons. The need is there for more. But it has to be viable in terms of cost, in terms transfer of technology and in terms of Make in India policy that the government is trying to implement,” he said.

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“So if those terms and conditions are good then I am sure we will be able to get more. But as of now we are looking at 36,” he said.

The Rafale had in 2012 received the IAF nod for 126 jets in a $20 billion deal in the face of a stiff competition from five other manufacturers.

As the deal could not work out, another deal for purchasing 36 Rafale combat jets in fly-away condition was inked during the prime minister’s visit to France in April.

The IAF had expressed an urgent need for the 126 combat jets to primarily replace its aging fleet of Soviet-era MiG-21 planes and to plug the gap caused by the delay in the development of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA).

The IAF currently has 33 combat squadrons against a sanctioned strength of 39.5, which is sought to be raised to 42.

(With inputs from IANS)

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All Religions Flourished In India: Modi

"Every religion found life here, it grew here. Every Indian is proud of this virtue, no matter what language he speaks, no matter what religion he practices," the Prime Minister said

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi (FILE PHOTO)
  • Prime minister Narendra Modi says that all religions flourished in India
  • He said that every religion found life in India
  • Modi said that India is a land of many religions and festivals

Stressing that India embraced many religions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that every religion flourished in India.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi says that India is a land of many religions.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi says that India is a land of many religions.

“Every religion found life here, it grew here. Every Indian is proud of this virtue, no matter what language he speaks, no matter what religion he practices,” the Prime Minister said at a conference on ‘Islamic Heritage: Promoting Understanding and Moderation’ in the presence of Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Also Read:  Amazing Platform where Prime Minister connects with the citizens

“Be it, Buddha or Mahatma Gandhi, the fragrance of peace and love has spread across the world from India. India has given the idea of ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ — which means that the whole world is our family. India found its identity in considering the people of this world as their family.

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Narendra Modi says that Indians celebrate all festivals with same level of jest.

“We will be celebrating Holi tomorrow, there will be a celebration of Buddha Jayanti, that will be followed by the month of Ramzan — a symbol of the country’s unity and diversity.” IANS