French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was quoted by the financial daily ‘Les Echos’ that France expects to make its first deliveries of Rafale to India by 2016 or 2017. The paper stated that France’s draft defence budget was based on the assumption that the first deliveries of the Dassault Aviation-built fighters would commence in 2016.
India and France are negotiating the purchase of 126 of the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. In April this year, Indian sources told Reuters that the deal could be delayed as the two countries struggle to reach an agreement over the role of an Indian state-run subcontractor Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The Rafale was selected for exclusive negotiations in January 2012 after a hotly contested bidding war with rival manufacturers. The yet-to-be finalised $15 billion deal would be one of the world’s largest defence import orders.