The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) met to clear proposals to buy 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets and three Scorpene submarines for the Navy.
The approval by the DAC — which defence minister Rajnath Singh heads — may lead to an announcement on procuring the Rafale M aircraft during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day Paris visit, according to a report in The Indian Express.
The DAC has granted the acceptance of necessity (AoN) to procure the fighter jets, but the price and purchase terms will be negotiated with the French government since they will be bought on an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) basis.
The Rafale Marine fighters are the naval variant of the Rafale fighter jets, 36 of which are operated by the Indian Air Force.
Manufactured by France's Dassault Aviation, the Rafales are advanced twin-engine, multirole fighter jets equipped with Meteor-beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, hammer air-to-surface smart weapon systems, and scalp cruise missiles. Rafales have modern sensors to detect and attack targets, according to The Indian Express report.
These jets are equipped with India-specific enhancements and can carry high payloads.
The Marine version of the jets will be different from these as they will be operated from aircraft carriers at sea.
The marine jets will have foldable wings, a longer airframe for landing on carriers, and a tail hook for arrested landing on a carrier. Its nose gear will have the "jump strut technology" in the shock absorber to give the aircraft an angle of attack during catapulting.
These marine jets can also carry a wider range of weapons, including anti-ship missiles and air-to-surface missiles and radar meant for maritime operations.
Dassault Aviation has said that the Rafale is one of the key components of France's nuclear deterrence.
It said that in 2022, France had ordered 192 Rafales, including 12 aircraft, to compensate for those sold to Greece. So far, 153 jets have been delivered.
The aircraft has logged a total of 405,000 flight hours – including 63,500 operational hours flown by French pilots since 2007.