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India likely to firm up procurement of Rafale jets for Navy, 3 Scorpene submarines from France

NEW DELHI (PTI):  India is finalising the ground work for firming up procurement of 26 Naval variant of Rafale jets and three Scorpene submarines from France in the run-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Paris this week, people familiar with the development have said.

The two sides are also inching closer to seal a deal under which French defence major Safran and an Indian entity will jointly develop an aircraft engine in India, the people said on Monday.

It is learnt that the Defence Procurement Board (DPB) of the Ministry of Defence cleared the proposals.

The procurement proposals will be taken up soon by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The people said India and France may announce the big-ticket defence projects during Modi's visit to France.

Modi will attend the Bastille Day Parade in Paris on July 14 as the guest of honour.

Some of the defence procurement projects may be announced this week, the people said when asked where the mega acquisition will be sealed following talks between PM Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.

They, however, said that some issues are yet to be thrashed out.

The Indian Navy is looking for procurement of 26 deck-based fighter jets for indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

After a lengthy process, the Navy had narrowed down on Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and French aerospace major Dassault Aviation's Rafale-M aircraft for the procurement.

It is learnt that Rafale-M emerged as the winner in the tight race.

India has already procured 36 Rafale jets from France for the Indian Air Force.

The Rafale jets are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.

Another important project with France is likely to be a follow on order of three Scorpene submarines.

Under Project 75, six Scorpene submarines have already been made in India.

The French side and its partner Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) are now looking at an additional order of three more Scorpene submarines, the people said.

The defence ministry is in talks with French defence major Safran for joint development of a fighter jet engine in India to power the country's next generation aircraft including the futuristic Advance Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

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