India's cabinet cleared the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation on Wednesday, paving the way for signing a deal that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is betting on to modernize the air force, a government source told Reuters.
The acquisition is part of a $150-billion military overhaul India has launched, drawing global arms makers into one of the world's most promising markets.
Under the deal, India will get 36 Rafale jets ready to go straight into service. India's fighter aircraft fleet, comprising Russian, British and French planes, is down to 33 squadrons as against the air force's requirement of 45 to counter a "two-front collusive threat" from Pakistan and China.
The two countries will sign the final deal on Friday, the source, who did not wish to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media, said.