Indian Air Force Chief Arrives in France for Rafale Tour, Talks
Air Chief Marshal Browne Leaves for France Amidst Talks for India's Largest-Ever Defence Deal.
Even as India is in final negotiations to seal its largest-ever defence project, the almost $20 billion MMRCA project to acquire 126 Rafale fighters, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne left for a four-day visit to France on Monday. The French Rafale jet outclassed five other American, Russian and Swedish fighters, in technical and commercial evaluation, to enter the final lap of India's gigantic medium multi-role combat aircraft programme.
Moreover, the mid-life upgrade of IAF's 51 Mirage-2000 fighters is also currently underway with the help of French companies in a project that will eventually cost over Rs 15,000 crore.
During his visit, ACM Browne will hold talks with Jean-Yves Le Drian, the new French defence minister, Admiral EdouardGuillaud, French chief of defence staff, Ingenieur General de l'Armement (IGA) Laurent Collet-Billon, director-general of the French Defence Technology and Procurement Agency (DGA) and General Jean-Paul Palomeros, chief of staff of the French Air Force.
The visit, which aims to expand the already robust bilateral military to military ties between the two countries, would also see the IAF chief visit Cognac, Istres and St.Dizier airbases of the French Air Force (FAF).
At St.Dizier, he would be visiting the Rafale Squadron to get a first-hand impression of the jet selected by the IAF, as also to see Rafale's production facilities at Merignac. He would also be interacting with the IAF's project management team members for the Mirage- 2000 Upgrade project.
The visit is significant as it is the first high level official visit from India to France after the new government has taken office in Paris. General Jean-Paul Palomeros, in turn, had visited India during September last year, when he had also visited some of the IAF's air bases including Jaisalmer and Gwalior.
Source: NEW DELHI - Times of India; published May 21, 2012
Photo: The Indian Air Force Mirage-2000s (Photo by IAF)