India will finalize a deal with France by March-end to upgrade its 51 Mirage-2000 fighter jets, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik, said Thursday.
The two countries have finally overcome their differences over the cost of the contract with the French firm Dassault, which is estimated to be $2 billion. “Yes, there were difficulties, but it is all over now and you will see the result soon,” Naik told reporters at Yelahanka air base in Bangalore.
“The negotiations are now successfully concluded. The final report is now with the defense ministry and we expect to conclude the contract by the end of this financial year,” the IAF deputy chief, Air Marshal R.K. Sharma, said.
The IAF operates three squadrons the multi-role fighters that it began inducting in 1987. Under the upgrade program, the IAF looks to extend its life by 20 or more years by integrating a modern glass cockpit for better situational awareness, improved avionics, a new electronic warfare suite, sensors and weapons.
The Mirage upgrade is the second such program for fighter jets in the IAF fleet after a $964 million deal with Russia for 63 MiG-29 air dominance fighters.