India has taken a major step by submitting a Letter of Request to the French government for the acquisition of 26 Rafale Marine fighter aircraft for the Indian Navy under a government-to-government agreement.
The French government reportedly received the Letter of Request from India a few days ago. They are currently reviewing the request and are expected to provide a response in the near future, ANI reported citing top defence sources.
The Letter of Request (LoR) is akin to a tender document outlining the specific requirements and capabilities that the Indian government seeks in the Rafale Marine aircraft being acquired for the INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya aircraft carriers.
The Indian Navy and government are collaborating on fast-tracking the acquisition contract to enable Indian carriers to operate advanced aircraft, giving New Delhi a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean region.
The defence acquisition council had cleared the deal worth around 5.5 billion Euro just before the visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France as the state guest for its Bastille Day parade in July.
Under the proposal, the Indian Navy is set to receive a total of 22 single-seated Rafale Marine aircraft, in addition to four trainer aircraft.
The MiG-29s are currently being used on the aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant, but the addition of Rafales is necessary for operations on both carriers.
India is seeking to include its own missiles, such as the Astra air-to-air missile, as part of the package offered by France.
The configuration of the aircraft is expected to be similar to what has been provided to the Indian Air Force.
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