NEW DELHI — The $8.9 billion deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft from France will likely be delayed due to a AgustaWestland bribery scandal and a cautious government in India.

In addition, India's federal Law Ministry has also made observations in the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on Rafale deal.

"The Ministry of Law and Justice has made certain observations (on the Rafale acquisition) and the same will be taken into account while finalizing the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), which is still under negotiation," Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told Parliament on May 3.

Parrikar said bilateral negotiations on the Rafale deal have not been finalizedhave not been concluded.

"We are currently examining the observations made by the Ministry of Law and Justice and not timeline can be set aside," said a Ministry of Defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He would not elaborate on the Ministry of Law and Justice's "observations."

Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence expressed its displeasure over the unconcluded deal: "The committee are unhappy to note that although a considerable time has elapsed, negotiations with France on Rafale (fighter aircraft) could not be taken to a logical end."

Last month, a source at the French Embassy said that "30 percent offsets will be embarked for future military aviation research and development (R&D) programs, and the remaining 20 percents will [be embarked] with Indian [defense] industries making components for Rafale."

French defense companies Safran, Thales and Dassault will provide state-of-the-art technologies in stealth, radar, thrust vectoring for missiles, and materials for electronics and micro-electronics.

India plans to purchase Mica air-to-air missiles, Scalp air-to-ground missiles, Meteor beyond-visual-range missiles and precision-guided munitions for Rafale aircraft. Rafale aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) will carry 10 tons of weaponry.

India also plans to buy all 36 Rafale fighters in fly-away condition. First delivery of the Rafales is expected within 20 months of the contract. France will also provide ten years of maintenance and spares support for Rafale aircraft.

The fighter aircraft strength of IAF is down to 25 squadron (a squadron is equal to 18 aircraft). A strength of 45 squadrons is required by the country.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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