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Two IAF Mirage aircraft flown to France for upgradation

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IAF Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Two Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have been flown to France for upgradation under a USD 2.4 billion deal with defence majors Thales and Dassault Aviation.

The deal was signed between India and these two companies in July this year for upgrading IAF's 51-strong Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft fleet.

The first of the two aircraft were flown from their home-base in Gwalior last week to France on Tuesday where they will be equipped with advanced avionics, electronic warfare suites and weapon systems, IAF officials said here Wednesday.

As per the deal, the two planes would be upgraded at the French facilities and the remaining 49 would undergo the modernisation process at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) units in India, they said.

Under the deal, the French firms will also modernise the navigation systems, mission computers, electronic warfare systems and radars bringing the aircraft to the standards of more advanced Mirage-2000-5 planes.

The deal to upgrade the aircraft had been hanging fire for the last five years as the Defence Ministry had been involved in extensive negotiations including on the cost of upgradation.

The proposal for modernising the warplanes was cleared at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on July 13.

The French companies would also invest 30 per cent of the deal money back in the Indian defence sector as part of the offsets policy.

Under the policy, foreign firms bagging deals worth over Rs 300 crore have to invest at least 30 per cent of the contract amounts back in the Indian defence, civilian aerospace and homeland security sectors.

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