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    U.S. Air Forces F-16 demonstration team pilot, Ryan Worrell from Iowa, walks past the F-16, a fighter aircraft, on display on the fourth day of the Aero India 2013 at Yelahanka air base in Bangalore, India, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013

    F-16s May Replace India's Obsolete Fleet as Rafale Deal Stalling

    © AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi
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    Indian Air Force may replace the Soviet MiG-21 aircraft with the US F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, according to an ex-wing commander at the Indian Air Force and former chief spokesperson for the Defense Ministry.

    This photo released on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows a French army Rafale fighter jet on the tarmac of an undisclosed air base as part of France's Operation Chammal launched in September 2015 in support of the US-led coalition against Islamic State group
    © AP Photo / French Air Force/ECPAD via AP
    NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — Localized production of the US F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft may help India substitute its obsolete fleet largely depending on the Soviet MiG-21 fighters as the long-awaited deal on the Rafale fighter jets between Paris and New Delhi is stalling, Praful Bakshi, an ex-wing commander at the Indian Air Force and former chief spokesperson for the Defense Ministry, told Sputnik on Saturday.

    On Thursday, a vice president at the US defense contractor Lockheed Martin said that the company was willing to turn India into the sole producer of the F-16 aircraft by shutting the only active production line in Texas and shifting it to India.

    "F-16 can be a nice replacement for the MiG-21 aircraft. Because when Rafale deal will materialize is not clear," he said.

    French Rafale fighter aircrafts come back aboard the French Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, after flights on November 23, 2015 at eastern Mediterranean sea, as part of operation Chammal in Syria and Irak against the Islamic State group
    Bakshi added that the technological transfer would be a crucial part of the deal.

    "We have to see whether they are bringing their technology, we have to see that they should not make India just an assembly point. They must bring their technology here and fighter planes should be manufactured here. It will create employment opportunities here and foster our technological development," he pointed out.

    In January 2016, India and France signed an intergovernmental agreement on the purchase of the 36 Rafale fighter jets. The French Dassault aviation manufacturer first asked almost $12 billion for the aircraft, while New Delhi demanded a 30-percent cut to the price. In May, Paris has agreed to decrease the pricing by some 7-8 percent, thus the France’s current offer stands at some $8.6 billion.


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    Rafale fighter jets, F-16, Indian Air Force, India
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