Mirage-2000 upgrade deal by month-end: Official

April 5th, 2010 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) After two years of negotiations, India and France are likely to finalise by month-end a deal to upgrade the Indian Air Force’s Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft to enhance their combat capabilities and increase their service life, a defence ministry official said Monday.
“The deal is yet to be finalised,” the official told IANS.

“French officials were here for talks and would return this week to discuss it further. We expect it to be finalised by month-end,” the official added.

The deal for upgrading 50-odd aircraft is valued at between $1.5 billion and $2.2 billion and involves new avionics, as well as new weapons and senor suites, for the aircraft.

The first four to six Mirages will be upgraded in France and the balance in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under a transfer of technology pact.

India first inducted 40 Mirages in the mid-1980s and procured over 20 more in later years. The aircraft more than proved its worth during the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan.

This will be second biggest deal with France after after the ongoing Rs.18,798 crore project to construct six Scorpene submarines at Mumbai’s Mazagon Docks.

Meanwhile, according to a report in the French newspaper Le Monde, France has has decided to suspend a $1.6 billion contract for supplying electronics and missiles for the JF-7 Thunder fighter that has been jointly developed by China and Pakistan to ensure this does not impact on India-France strategic relations.

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