The Indian Air Force today said it was hoping to sign the long-stuck USD 2.1 billion deal to upgrade around 50 Mirage 2000s with France by March this year. The deal has been awaiting clearance from the government after differences emerged between the two sides over price and legal issues.
"It was subject to negotiations and many elements were discussed in detail. The negotiations have been concluded and report has been submitted to the Defence Ministry. We are trying to conclude this deal by end of this fiscal," Air Chief Marshal P V Naik told a press conference here.
The deal was earlier expected to be signed during French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit last year but was postponed as the issues had remained unresolved then.
Giving details of the upgrade, the IAF chief said the aircraft would have modern avionics, new electronic warfare equipment and would get a life extension of 20 years.
On the procurement of mid-air refuelling aircraft, Naik said the cancellation of the procurement procedure last year had delayed the induction of more such aircraft in the force.
After a five-year process, the last tender was cancelled after Finance Ministry objected over IAF's choice for buying Airbus 330 citing its high price.
As per the procurement procedure, if two aircraft are meeting the requirements specified in the tender, the one with lower price has to be selected. After the cancellation of the tender, the IAF has reissued the Request For Proposal (RFP) to global manufacturers.
On the indigenously developed Intermediate jet trainer aircraft, Naik said it was expected to get its Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) by July this year.
On the plans to re-engine the deep penetration fighter Jaguar, the IAF chief said it has issued RFPs to engine manufacturers Honeywell and Rolls Royce. "We are looking to re-engine 60-plus Jaguars and procure over 200 engines," he added