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NEW DELHI — In an expected move, the Indian government has directed the Navy to undertake detailed briefings with Dassault Aviation regarding the  Rafale aircraft.

An Indian Defence Ministry source said the government wants commonalities between logistics and spares for fighters with the Navy and Air Force.

A detailed briefing on Rafale for the Indian Navy is planned here for Jan. 29, he said, but declined to comment if India will buy Rafales for the Navy as well.

A Navy official said the service needs 54 fighter aircraft but refused to say if Rafale has been shortlisted.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande will arrive in India Jan. 24 along with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to sign the protocol agreement (an inter-governmental agreement ) on purchase of 36 Rafales and a formal agreement will be signed in New Delhi Jan. 25.

Last week, India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval flew to Paris to give final approval on the protocol agreement and to finalize the offsets and weapon package.

Besides providing 36 Rafale fighters over three years, Dassault Aviation will also set up new facilities for Rafale aircraft at two Indian Air Force bases.

The MoD source added that the entire deal, including weapons package, would cost over $9 billion. But he gave no time frame when the final contract will be signed.

The governments of India and France have been working on the Rafale deal since April under which France will provide an offset of under 50 percent.

Funding of the 36 Rafale fighters will be a big challenge, said another MoD source.

The funding time line has not been decided yet, he added.

The Indian MoD is also drafting new guidelines under which the French defense companies involved will have to pay penalties if spares are not available or performance is unsatisfactory.

Email: vraghuvanshi@defensenews.com

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