NEW DELHI — Indian Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur is in Paris Monday and Tuesday to help speed negotiations on the Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program, an Indian Defence Ministry source said. A senior official of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is accompanying Mathur, the official said.

, fast track the Medium Multirole Combat (MMRCA) program , negotiations between Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Dassault Aviation of France, India's to bureaucrat, Defense Secretary, Radha Krishna Mathur (cq) is in Paris January 12-13 along with unnamed senior official of state Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to sort out irritants stalling finalization of Rafale fighter, a MoD source said.

In December, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and (cq) after taking charge November 11 and the visiting French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (cq) agreed to fast-track the MMRCA negotiations for the purchase of 126 Dassault Aviation Rafale fighters for the Rafale fighter.US $12 billion. That figure, originally estimated in 2007, hasnow estimated The estimated cost of the MMRCA deal which was assessed at around $11 billion at the time of floating the tender in 2007 is now put at about expected to cost around $20 billion, the MoD source added.

A MoD official said, The contract negotiations are on track, the official said, but refused to specify when a deal give when the contract could be finalized.

"Negotiations can be stretched in big ticket deals like the MMRCA deal," the official added.

Talks Contract Negotiations with Dassault Aviation of France, which began in 2012 after Rafale was down-selected as the preferred fighter aircraft over the Eurofighter Typhoon. of EADS have hit rough a patch in the last one year over sticky Issues relating to the cost of the 108 India-made Rafales to be license-produced by HAL and French guarantees to be undertaken by the French on the delivery schedule have delayed final agreement. State-owned HAL which will license produce the 108 Rafale aircraft has yet to calculate the cost of the India-made Rafales.of the aircraft, if selected.

The estimated cost of the MMRCA deal which was assessed at around $11 billion at the time of floating the tender in 2007 is now expected to cost around $20 billion, the MoD source added.

State-owned HAL which will license produce the 108 Rafale aircraft has yet to calculate the cost of the India-made Rafale. Several delegations of HAL have visited Dassault Aviation facilities sin the last one year to assess the cost.

Under the terms of purchase, the first 18 aircraft will come in a fly-away condition while the remaining 108 will be manufactured under a technology transfer process. Out of the 108 aircraft to be license-produced in India, 74 would be single-seat and 34 twin-seat aircraft.

Even as HAL is finalizing the cost of the Indian-made Rafales, it (HAL) is insisting that Dassault Aviation take guarantee of the delivery schedule of the Rafale, because hundreds of spares and subsystems will be supplied by the French. MoD sources say Dassault Aviation is not agreeing to take guarantee on the delivery schedule of the India-made Rafale which will be produced by HAL.

The French officials have said say they can assist HAL in the smooth delivery schedule and also to help lower the cost of the Indian-made Rafales, but cannot give take guarantees.

An official of Indian Air Force official said (IAF) without being named said, the MMRCA negotiations would have been finalized long ago if had the Indian producer had been a domestic private sector company rather than a state-owned entity. adding that the working at the state owned HAL has led delays of several of the IAF projects, including the Light Combat Aircraft, Advanced Jet Trainer, and the Light Utility Helicopter.

Email: vraghuvanshi@defensenews.com.