The Government of India is set to finalise the purchase of 36 Rafale combat aircraft in fly-away condition from France for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The move comes as the IAF is in critical operational necessity for multirole combat aircraft.
The Dassault Aviation-built multi-role jet fighter will be supplied as part of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) signed by France and India in January this year.
The long-awaited medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract is expected to be worth more than $20bn.
The IAF initially planned to acquire 126 Rafale aircraft, with the first 18 jets to be manufactured in France from the second quarter of 2015 onwards, while the remaining 108 to be locally built following a technology transfer to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The countries, however, could not reach an agreement as Dassault refused to provide guarantees for the fighters built in India.
The new MMRCA aircraft will feature an advanced electronically scanned array radar, mid-air refuelling and advanced electronic warfare equipment.
Powered by two SNECMA M88 engines, Rafale has been designed to conduct air-to-air combat, reconnaissance flights and nuclear bombing missions.
The aircraft can be fitted with anti-ship and air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. It is in use with the French Navy and Air Force, and has also been ordered by Egypt.
A negotiating team has been formed to negotiate the terms and conditions of the procurement of Rafale jets and recommend a draft agreement.
The negotiations are currently underway and the IGA is yet to be finalised.