• France's news in English

India selects Dassault for major jet deal

AFP · 1 Feb 2012, 08:28

Published: 01 Feb 2012 08:28 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

India has selected the French firm Dassault over the Eurofighter consortium as the preferred bidder for 126 fighter jets in a major contract estimated to be worth $12 billion (€9 billion).


Dassault won the right to enter exclusive negotiations with India after lodging a lower bid than its European rival in the world's biggest single defence deal currently in process, an Indian government source told AFP.

Dassault, whose Rafale fighter was pitted against the Eurofighter Typhoon, said it was "honoured and grateful" to be selected and stressed its commitment to meeting the "operational requirements" of the Indian Air Force.

The French government welcomed the news but added that the final contract had yet to be signed.

"At this stage -- and I want to be cautious -- we are in a phase of exclusive negotiations," French Minister of State for Foreign Trade Pierre Lellouche told France's BFM radio.

Lellouche declined to release financial details of Dassault's bid.

Dassault Aviation shares soared more than 20 percent on the Paris stock exchange after the news broke.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed Dassault's selection, saying that it "goes far beyond the company that makes them, far beyond aerospace -- it is a vote of confidence in the entire French economy."

He said the firm was selected "thanks to the competitiveness" of its bid.

"The negotiation of the contract will begin very soon with the full support of French authorities. It will include major transfers of technology guaranteed by the French state," Sarkozy said.

Eurofighter said it respected India's decision but was disappointed.

"Although this is not yet a contract signature and contract negotiations are still ahead, we are disappointed," a statement said.

The huge contract to supply war planes to fast-developing India has been fiercely fought over for four years.

India in April pulled a surprise by cutting out US bidders Boeing and Lockheed Martin -- much to Washington's disappointment -- as well as dropping Sweden's Saab AB and the Russian makers of the MiG-35 from the race.

That left Dassault and Eurofighter -- a consortium of Britain's BAE Systems, Italy's Finmeccanica and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of Jane's Defence Weekly, said the decision was "a big win for the Rafale" but warned that the French side faced a period of tough negotiation.

"Rafale has been selected as the preferred bidder but any student of Indian procurement knows that this means nothing until the contract is physically signed," Hardy said.

He predicted that the recent sharp depreciation of the Indian currency and "standard contractual wrangling" could delay any final deal for years.

The tendered contract is for the outright purchase of 18 combat aircraft by 2012 with another 108 to be built in India with options to acquire more.

Such a large order attracted strong lobbying during visits to India by US President Barack Obama, Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

India, the biggest importer of military hardware among emerging nations, issued a request for proposals in 2007 and trials of aircraft from the six companies competing for the deal began a year later.

The procurement of the fighter jets is a key part of India's military upgrade programme, aimed at securing its borders against rivals Pakistan and China.

The Rafale and the Typhoon were both in action over Libya last year during the international operation to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians from Moamer Kadhafi's forces.

Both plane makers were relying on the contract to secure their futures amid falling defence budgets in developed markets, with Dassault also keen to sign up the first foreign buyer for the Rafale.

French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet warned in December that the Rafale production line would be halted if none of the jets could be sold abroad.

France has ordered 180 of the planes.


Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available