India and France are close to sealing the Rafale jet deal, reportedly valued at Rs 60,000 crore, ahead of French President Francois Hollande's visit to the country in the last week of January.
A team of delegates, including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, are in Paris to finalise the finer aspects of the French fighter jet purchase, while most of the complex issues in the deal have already been resolved, The Economic Times reported.
Although the final price will be announced only after the two governments sign the deal, it is not clear whether it would include a weapons package.
"The price would depend on the support package and the length for which the Air Force wants it. For a 10-year package, the cost will be higher as more spares will need to be sourced. India wants the same availability rate for the fighter that the French Air Force has," an official said.
According to reports, talks for replacing the Indian Air Force's (IAF) fleet of aircraft began nine years ago. The Defence Ministry had earlier cleared the military deal to acquire $12 billion worth 126 Rafale jets, but last year the number was scaled down to 36.
At a time when the IAF is trying to combat threats from China and Pakistan, the Rafale jets would increase the its squadron strength, which is currently down to 34, The Indian Express said.
The deal is expected to be implemented in seven years.
Capabilities of the Rafale jets
The French Rafale fighter jet, which weighs roughly 9.5 tonne, can carry 9 tonnes of weapons. The jets can carry out air-to-ground strikes as well as air-to-air strikes in a single sortie operation, according to Dassault Aviation.
The fighter jet is the first European combat aircraft that uses electronic scanning radar, The Economic Times added.
What the deal means for India
IBTimes India had earlier reported that the Rafale jets would be "bought off the shelf". This means there would be faster delivery of aircraft to India. The IAF needs to replace its operational gaps.
The Rafale jets will have the same configuration stipulated by IAF in 2007, when it had issued the tender for the jets.