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India signs 2.4Bn USD Mirage contract with France

Faced with a dual threat from China and Pakistan, which have even come together to manufacture fighter jets, India is really cranking up military aviation contracts. Even as the $4.1 billion deal for 10 American C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft awaits the final nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), another major contract is now headed that way.

mirage 2000

Defence ministry sources on Wednesday said the long-awaited deal with France for the upgrade of 52 Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters in IAF’s combat fleet is “finally ready” at a cost of almost Rs 11,000 crore ($2.4 billion). “This is also now going to CCS for approval. Another big contract, which was being progressed simultaneously, for around 450 MICA (interception and aerial combat missiles) systems to arm the upgraded Mirages is also in the final stages now,” said a source.

This comes after long-drawn negotiations with French companies Dassault Aviation (aircraft manufacturer), Thales (weapons systems integrator) and MBDA (missile supplier), which were “initially asking for much more”, said sources.

Under the contract, the first four to six Mirages will be upgraded in France, while the rest will be retrofitted in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) with transfer of technology from the French companies.

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