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France ready to give Mirage “marketing rights” to India
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 4
France is ready to grant India “marketing rights” for the Mirage-2000-5 fighter aircraft, which have been put on offer to the Indian Air Force (IAF) besides the transfer of technology being offered for the production of aircraft here.

Ambassador of France to India, Dominique Girard, said here that Paris was ready to discuss with New Delhi the granting of exclusive marketing rights for the Mirage-2000-5 for the entire region if the fighter aircraft was selected for the purchase by the IAF. He said that the offer for transfer of technology had already been put forward during talks with the Indian officials and that the French officials were ready to discuss even this new offer.

Talking to The Tribune during a function to launch Euro News in India, the French Ambassador was categorical that the issue of granting of “marketing rights” to India for the entire region could be discussed during further deliberations with the Dassault officials.

Feeling the heat following the sudden offer of the F-16 and F-A18 fighter aircraft from the US, the French Ambassador pointed out that the Mirage deal would be beneficial for India in many ways. Not only would the US not agree for transfer of technology but there could be spare parts problems in the future also. More importantly he said that the US would in no condition grant marketing rights to India, which France was ready to discuss.

Besides IAF pilots were already used to the Mirage aircraft and the Mirage-2000-5 was only an advanced version of the same aircraft. Not wanting to say much about the US offers, the French Ambassador said that the aircraft on offer were “old ladies” in comparison to Mirage and at a much higher price.

He also said that as of now the French administration had not spoken to the Indian Government but he did not rule out the possibility if there was similar pressure on New Delhi from Washington. The IAF was looking at purchasing as many as 126 multi-role combat aircraft and had sought a request for proposal from various aircraft manufacturers.

Incidentally, in a bid to bag the lucrative deal from India, US defence officials had held marathon discussions with the top Indian Air Force officials and submitted detailed technical parameters of the two fighters, the F-16 Fighting Falcons manufactured by Lockheed Martin and Boeing’s twin engined upgraded F-18 Super Hornets. It had also brought in the F-115es (Strike Eagle) aircrafts at the Aero India show at Bangalore to show case the technology.

The other aircraft, besides the F-16s, F-18s and the Mirage, which the IAF was looking at were the Grippen from Sweden and MiG-29s from Russia, which again were on the Indian inventory.

Defence Experts here said that the adding of the US aircrafts would only add to its inventory. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had also recently commented on the IAF inventory saying that it already had 26 different types of aircraft, which require different types of infrastructure to operate.

The committee felt that there was need to check the large inventory and acquire as far as possible similar type of aircraft as have been already in service with the air force.

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