The French and Indian government have confirmed that France’s Dassault is to enter into “exclusive negotiations” on selling Rafale fighter planes to the Indian Air Force.
Dassault had placed the lowest bid for the 126 jets, undercutting the price of the Typhoon fighter made by the four-nation Eurofighter consortium, that is the German and Spanish branches of EADS, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Finmeccanica.
Talks over the contract, which could be worth up to 11 billion euros including training and maintenance, are due to begin shortly although the process ahead for concluding a final agreement is unclear. The deal has been in the works since 2007.
An Indian defence ministry source told Reuters that each Rafale was up to 3.8 million euros cheaper than its rival and the French plane was preferred by the Air Force.
India, which is already Asia’s third-largest economy and growing fast, has emerged as the world’s leading importer of weapons as it jostles with China for influence and reach on the world stage.