India's deal with France to buy Rafale combat aircraft is in the final stages, as certain issues that rose between the two countries have 'almost been sorted out'.
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that the country is planning to upgrade the inventory of the Indian Air Force with focus on domestic manufacturing.
Built by Dassault Aviation, Rafale is a twin-jet combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence.
France will supply 36 Rafale planes to India under a deal agreed in April during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the European country.
Parrikar told PTI: "As of now we are talking about 36 (planes).
"I am not saying that it means we are thinking of buying more, for our upgrade of the air force, we are preparing a roadmap.
"Once that roadmap is finalised and approved by the government, then we will go ahead as per the roadmap."
India was originally expected to buy 126 Rafale aircraft.
Last week, France's Safran has dropped plans to collaborate with India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics to make engine parts for the aircraft, after the country scaled down its requirement.
Safran India CEO Stephane Lauret told Bloomberg: "The plan we're supposed to do in Bangalore, we won't do it for this 36 aircraft deal.
"But we'll continue to have other business with them. We have other projects with Hindustan Aeronautics."
Image: A Rafale plane. Photo: courtesy of Pritishp333.