India inks Mirage deal, France says no to Pak
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India last week finalised a $2.2 billion deal with France to upgrade its fleet of Mirage 2000 fighters, even as reports from Paris say the country has suspended the sale of electronics and missiles for Pakistan's JF 17 fighters, supposedly under "Indian pressure".
While the IAF deal for upgradation of 51 fighters had been hanging fire for the past two years, sources said the Price Negotiation Committee last week finalised the cost. The deal is likely to be signed shortly.
At $2.2 billion, the cost of the upgrade is considered to be on the higher side, given that several countries are offering new fighters for that price. However, the French argue that the upgrade, which will give the aircraft new radar systems, a new weapon suite, missiles, electronic warfare system and modern electronic warfare, will convert the combat-proven aircraft into next-generation fighters.
The final price negotiations were held even as reports from Paris, carried by French newspapers and agencies, said that its plans to sell $1.6 billion worth of military equipment for Pakistan's JF 17 fighters had been put on hold.
The reports said that the contract was suspended under Indian pressure and doubts over Pakistan's ability to pay for the systems.