India in talks with France to purchase second-hand Mirage jets: diplomat...... New Delhi, OCT 7, IRNA India-France-Mirage jets In-Depth Coverage India is in talks with France to purchase several second-hand Mirage 2000 fighters to bolster its air force, a diplomat said. "The Indian Air Force is seeking to acquire some aircraft quickly," sources said here quoting the diplomat, who made the disclosure to reporters on Friday without giving numbers, although the Indian press has said 40 may be bought. "The figure of 40 does not match the reality," the diplomat said. French Defence Ministry officials were due to meet India's Air Force chief later Friday. France and India have also been discussing for several months a new maintenance contract for New Delhi's 52 Mirage fighters built by Dassault, the diplomat said. Indian Air Force spokesman Squadron Leader Mahesh Upasini said the proposal to acquire the jets had "come to us from France." Indian sources added that India's Navy is also talking to Dassault about purchasing the Mirage-2000MKI, a maritime version of the French jet. India has plans to purchase 126 fighter jets at a cost of up to USD 9 billion to replace its aging MiG-21s. Dassault's Rafale warplane is among the contenders along with US firm Lockheed Martin's F-18 and Russia's MiG-35. New Delhi is expected to issue a request for proposals in January, the sources said. India has 34 air squadrons, each with 12 operational jets, against a sanctioned strength of 40 squadrons. The MiG-21s have been dubbed "flying coffins" by the media due to their frequent crashes. In March, India's Defence Ministry released figures showing that 54 MiG-21 fighter jets had crashed in the past seven years.