NEW DELHI (TIP): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 10  announced that India has requested France to give 36 Rafale fighter jets in ‘fly-away condition’ as quickly as possible.

The decision on Rafale jets was among the several agreements reached between the two countries after a meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Francois Hollande.

Calling France a valued friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there is no such sphere where India and France are not cooperating.

Prime Minister heaped praise on France for standing with India on various issues.

“I’m grateful to France for their support for India’s permanent membership of UN Security Council,” PM Modi said.

Prime Minister thanked France for supporting his Make in India initiative.

Earlier, during the talks the two leaders discussed defence, nuclear issues, economy, cultural and educational ties.

France has also agreed to give tourist visas to Indians in 48 hours.

Direct purchase to alter original deal

The “politico-strategic” decision of negotiating the direct purchase of 36 Rafale jets that was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just before he left for Paris on April 9 afternoon, will lead to a “modification” of the original deadlocked $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project for 126 fighters.

The final negotiations for the MMRCA project — which envisaged direct acquisition of the first 18 jets from France with the remaining 108 being built in India by Hindustan Aeronautics after transfer of technology — have been stalled for over a year now.France, incidentally, has failed to find international customers for its Rafale fighters, except for Egypt which agreed to buy 24 of them in February.

The insurmountable hurdle in the MMRCA negotiations was Dassault’s substantial hike in pricing for the 108 fighters to be produced by HAL as well as its refusal to take “full responsibility” for them. India, in turn, was clear it could not accept a hike in the L-1 (lowest bidder) price provided by Dassault since it had led Rafale to defeat the Eurofighter Typhoon in commercial evaluation in January 2012.