The two ministers held delegation-level talks, amid reports that the deal for 126 multi-role combat aircraft from the French aerospace major Dassault Aviation is in trouble facing delay for nearly three years and is facing fresh questions over pricing.
The defence ministry has, however, maintained it is awaiting the final report of the commercial negotiations committee (CNC) and that there are no second thoughts on the combat jet.
Sources in the defence ministry said the government wants to decide on the deal before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France, scheduled for April this year.
Parrikar had said Feb 18 that he had directed the CNC to speed up the process of completing the report so that a decision could be soon taken on the fighter jet’s acquisition.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had short-listed Rafale for induction into its frontline combat fleet, replacing the ageing Soviet-era MiG-21 squadron.
The deal is estimated to cost $20 billion for delivery of 126 fighters, including 18 off-the-shelf by Dassault, and 108 to be manufactured in India under licensed production by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. overtime, with 50 percent offset obligations to benefit the domestic aerospace industry.
The IAF opted for the twin-engined Rafale in January 2012 over Eurofighter Typhoon of the European consortium EADS Cassidian after outsmarting F-16 of America’s Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s F/A-18, Russian United Aircraft Corp’s MiG-35 and Sweden’s SAAB Gripen in a global competitive bid floated in August 2007.