India to buy French fighters

Plans to sell 126 Rafale jets greeted by Sarkozy as Dassault beats Eurofighter

1 February 2012

INDIA is opening exclusive negotiations with French defence company Dassault to buy 126 Rafale fighters and, if confirmed, it will be the first export sales of the jet.

The deal could be worth $11 billion to Dassault and the Rafale was chosen ahead of the Eurofighter Typhoon as the lowest bidder. They had been rated equal on combat efficiency.

India is buying the jets to replace its fleet of Dassault Mirage 2000s and Russian MiG-21s and had already rejected proposals from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Saab and MiG.

Dassault shares rose nearly 22% on news of the proposals and President Sarkozy said it would have the "full support of French authorities". He added that the Rafale had been chosen “thanks to its cost effectiveness over the lifetime of the plane”.

Contract negotiations will start in March and the first 18 fighters are due to be delivered to India this year with the remaining 108 to be built in India.

The production costs for the Rafale have been paid for by the French state and Defence Minister Gérard Longuet was reported recently as saying that if no sales were made soon then funding should be stopped.

However, the deal is not yet signed and the Rafale has already been rejected by Morocco, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland. Brazil and the United Arab Emirates are both considering deals.

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