Indian airforce chiefin France visit 'to buy warplanes'

30th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

NEW DELHI, March 30 (AFP) - India's Airforce chief is scheduled to visit France next month amid reports that he will seek additional Mirage-2000 jets to replace the country's ageing fleet, officials said Tuesday.

NEW DELHI, March 30 (AFP) - India's Airforce chief is scheduled to visit France next month amid reports that he will seek additional Mirage-2000 jets to replace the country's ageing fleet, officials said Tuesday.

Defence ministry officials described chief S. Krishnaswamy's Paris trip from April 3-9 as a "goodwill visit", but The Times of India said his talks would focus on the outright purchase of 18 Mirage-2000 jets, to be followed by the licenced production of 108 units in India.

India has already finalised the acquisition of 10 second-hand Mirage-2000 jets from Quatar, but the airforce, which will soon be ditching a section of obsolete Russian-made MiG-21s, is desperate to bolster its combat capabilities, the officials said.

The airforce, the world's fourth largest, has acquired two squadrons or 24 of the latest Sukhoi-30 MKIs from Russia and is preparing to manufacture 140 more, but it needs smaller combat planes to fill the vacuum that will be created with the phasing out of MiG-21s, experts said.

Earlier this month, the airforce clinched a USD 1.45 billion deal with British Aerospace for the acquisition of 66 military trainer jets that can be used in combat.

© AFP
                                              Subject: French news

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