Rafale fighter selection for IAF final: Minister

Bangalore, March 2 (IANS) Selection of French fighter Rafale as the multi-role medium combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) was final and the price negotiations were under way, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju said Friday.

‘The decision to purchase Rafale is final and we are in the stage of price negotiations,’ Raju told reporters on the margins of a defence expo here.

Clarifying that there were no second thoughts on the selection even as one of the contenders (BAE Systems) was ready to lower the price for its Eurofighter Typhoon, Raju said the decision on Rafale was final and price negotiations would be completed within this year.

‘Only after the negotiations are completed can we say it is final. Insofar as selection is concerned, Rafale has been finalised and it stands as the final thing,’ Raju said at the inaugural session of the second edition of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) Defence Expo 2012.

The defence ministry Jan 31 announced that the twin-engine Rafale of the French Dassault Aviation was selected over the Typhoon of the European consortium for the multi-billion dollar order to supply 126 fighters to the IAF.

These include 18 in fly-away condition within three years of signing the deal and licensing the Indian defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to produce the remaining 108 at its Bangalore aircraft complex with technology transfer.