IAF chief leaves for four-day visit to France - The Times of India NEW DELHI: Even as India conducts final negotiations to seal its largest-ever defence deal, the almost $20 billion MMRCA project to acquire 126 Rafale fighters, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne left for a four-day visit to France on Monday. The French Rafale jet outclassed five American, Russian and Swedish fighters in exhaustive technical and commercial evaluation to make it to the last lap of India's gigantic medium multi-role combat aircraft programme. Moreover, the mid-life avionics and weapons upgrade of IAF's 51 Mirage-2000 fighters is also in progress with the help of French companies in a project that will eventually cost over Rs 15,000 crore. During the visit, which comes when these critical projects are underway to boost his force's depleting combat edge, ACM Browne will hold talks with new French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, chief of defence staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud, Defence Technology and Procurement Agency (DGA) director-general Laurent Collet-Billon and air chief General Jean-Paul Palomeros, among others. The visit, which aims to expand the already robust military ties between the two countries, will see the IAF chief also visit Cognac, Istres and St Dizier airbases of the French Air Force. He will visit the Rafale squadron at St Dizier to get a first-hand impression of the jet selected by the IAF in the MMRCA sweepstakes, as also the fighter's production facilities at Merignac. During this first high-level official visit from India to France after the new government has taken office in Paris, ACM Browne will also interact with IAF's project management team members for the Mirage-2000 upgrade project.