Tuesday, September 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Purchase of 10 Mirages cleared
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 4 The Indian Air Force (IAF) will soon have new fighter planes in its inventory, with the Union Cabinet last week clearing the Rs 1500-crore deal for the purchase of 10 Mirage-2000 aircraft from France.

The proposal for the purchase have been pending for five years and New Delhi had taken a decision in principle in 1996 to purchase the planes.

According to reports, the new planes would be joining the force within three years and contrary to previous reports, the aircraft would be new. A controversy had been surrounding the purchase of the Mirages, with allegations that France had put on offer Mirages which were more than 10 years old and had been lying in hangars.

It was, however, still not clear whether serial production of the aircraft in India would be part of the deal. The IAF had been looking forward to getting the licence from Dassault Aviation for production of the aircraft in India.

Recently, even the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis, had expressed the need for starting the serial production here of the planes, which have been one of the frontline fighter aircraft of the country.

The aircraft are the same variant as which are already with India and have performed extremely well in various missions, including that in Kargil. It had not only played the role of a strike aircraft, but also that of Combat Air Patrolling aircraft. It was also used for electronic warfare.

The aircraft had also been used during operations in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. But there, they played the role of escort aircraft for the transport planes.

The Mirages would replace fighter jets which have already undergone their operational life cycle.

Although, the IAF has not carried out evaluation again before the purchase, it would be keeping a close watch during the production of the aircraft.

According to an IAF spokesman, there was no need for another evaluation as the aircraft had been tested and were already in use with the force. Besides, India would be buying the same variants as were already in use with the IAF.

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