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This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
NEW DELHI -- India expects to finalize the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal by March 2013, according to the country's air force chief, N.A.K. Browne.
"The negotiations are absolutely on with Dassault Aviation," Browne says. "We hope that at least this financial year [which runs through March 2013], we should be able to finish the negotiations and finalize the deal" for 126 Rafale fighters. After a global competition, the Rafale beat out the other finalist, the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The Indian air force is likely to get 18 aircraft from Dassault in fly-away condition; the rest would be manufactured by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) under license from Dassault.
"It is a very complex project, as we are discussing various areas like transfer of technology, the offset [agreements], what HAL will do and the cost as well," Browne says.
Though Browne didn't detail the latest cost estimates, the deal is expected to cost India $15 billion to $20 billion.
The multibillion dollar deal will be first export order for Dassault. The French fighters are expected to replace India's aging MiG-21 fleet from the Soviet era.
Rafale and Typhoon were the finalists after India in April 2011 ruled out the Boeing F/A-18, Lockheed Martin F-16, Saab Gripen and United Aircraft Corporation MiG-35.
Credit: Dassault Aviation