India will decide on the fate of a long-delayed deal for 126 Dassault Rafale fighter jets only after March, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today at the Aero India airshow in Bengaluru.
He declined to say when a final decision was likely on the contract, which was initially worth $12 billion and could go up to $20 billion or Rs 124,000 crore.
The Rafale was picked in 2012 over rival offers from the United States, Europe and Russia. A final deal has been held up due to a stalemate over a crucial component of the deal. Under the terms of the contract, the winning bidder will supply only 18 of the aircraft directly and the rest will be manufactured in India by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics.
In an interview to NDTV, Eric Trappier, the CEO of Dassault Aviation, said that he expects to close the deal, and denied reports that that the life-cycle cost of the Rafale was higher than its competitors.
The Dassault Rafale, which is the mainstay of the French Air Force and Navy, was selected by the Indian Air Force to meet its requirement for a state of the art multi-role fighter and was placed ahead of the Eurofighter Typhoon (built by a European consortium).
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