As part of the ongoing steps to modernise the country's defence services and also maintain their capabilities at an optimal level, India has signed a 1 billion euro ($1.5 billion)deal with French aerospace and defence major, Dassault Systems, to upgrade its fleet of 51 Mirage 2000 multi-role fighter aircraft, defence minister AK Antony informed the Lok Sabha.
Dassault is the original equipment manufacturer of the Mirage fighter.
Antony said the Request for Proposal (RFP) to upgrade the fighters had been issued to Dassault on 9 April after receiving clearance of the Cabinet Committee on Security.
The Indian Air Force is currently equipped with three squadrons of these fighters. Under new plans, these aircraft will be upgraded to the level of the French Air Force Mirage 2000-5, which carry superior avionics.
The upgrade will also extend the lifespan of these aircraft by another 25 years.
For the Indian Air Force, this is its second major up-gradation deal. Earlier, it entered into an agreement with Russia's MIG RAC for the up-gradation of 63 MiG-29 air superiority fighters, in a deal estimated to be worth $964 million.
The up-gradation of the country's front line fighters is also designed to blunt somewhat the alarming depletion in the IAF's squadron strength, which has plunged from 39 fighter squadrons to just 32.