PARIS — French and Indian officials are negotiating an off-the-shelf order worth €7.2 billion (US $7.6 billion) for 63 Rafale fighter jets to equip three Indian Air Force squadrons, during a visit by the Indian prime minister, daily Le Monde reported Friday.
"The discussions lasted all night, they are continuing this morning," a source close to the talks said, Le Monde reported. "The idea is to be able to announce this contract during the visit to Paris of Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, on Friday or Saturday."
Modi is on a two-day state visit.
The Elysée President's Office and Dassault were not immediately available for comment, and the French Ministry of Defense declined comment.
While the number of aircraft has yet to be finalized, the order would be for Rafales built in France rather than assembled in India with a technology transfer. This is available under an option agreed with Dassault in 2012 for an off-the-shelf purchase of 63 "supplementary" units, the afternoon daily reported.
Negotiations have been conducted for three years Such a deal would speed up the acquisition rather than wait for a conclusion to contract negotiations, which have been pursued for three years for a purchase of 126 Rafales, of which 18 would be built in France and 108 in India. , the report said. If agreed, this off-the-shelf deal would speed up acquisition for the Indian Air Force, the report said, while talks on the larger buy continued.
"The Rafale question is still under discussion and we should be able to move ahead on a mutually agreed basis," Modi told on April 9 Le Figaro, the daily owned by the Dassault family.