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India to select fighter jet under 'Make in India' by March 2017


A representational photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): The government will zero in by the end of current fiscal a fighter jet it wants to build under 'Make in India' initiative, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said, as he expressed confidence that the deal for 36 Rafale jets will be wrapped up in "weeks".

He said India will decide on either Boeing's F18A, Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale or Gripen.

Parrikar said various issues, like cost and necessity among others, will have to be taken into account before selecting a foreign fighter even as he pointed out that Rafales are expensive.

"I cannot tell you the dates but it is very near. It is near completion. Need a few more weeks to fine tune it," he said in an interview to All India Radio on Friday.

He said the price was still under negotiation.

"You will have to bring down the cost. If you give away the price they demand, our coffer will soon become empty," he said.

Parrikar pointed out that a Rafale would cost anywhere between Rs 600 and Rs 750 crore each and a Sukhoi 30 and Tejas can be bought together at the same price.

However, it is expected that the 36 Rafales will cost about Euro 7.25 billion without armaments. This will work out to be about Rs 1,500 crore per aircraft.

Strongly backing the quality of Tejas, Parrikar said it has the same qualities as Rafale.

Tejas is in light weight category and its range is also half compared to Rafale, but in terms of avionics, electronics and fire power it is no less to Rafale, he said.

The minister said India will select a good fighter by the end of this financial year to be made domestically.

"It is not yet decided which aircraft it would be. It may be F18, Rafale, Eurofighter or Grippen. The decision in this regard will be taken in this financial year," he said.

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