India’s $15 bln jets deal to be ‘delayed’
NEW DELHI - Reuters
A Dassault Rafale fighter jet takes part in a flying display during a ceremony. AFP photoIndia’s planned deal to buy 126 fighter-jets from Dassault Aviation could be delayed as the two sides struggle to reach an agreement over the role of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), a defense ministry source said on April 5.
India picked the Dassault-made Rafale jet for exclusive negotiations in January 2012 after a hotly contested bidding war with rival manufacturers, but it is still to finalise the $15 billion deal, one of the world’s largest defense import orders. Under the initial terms of the proposed deal, Dassault was expected to provide 18 fighters in “fly-away” condition, and then let HAL manufacture the rest in India.
However, Dassault now wants two separate contracts to be signed - one for the ready- made ones, and another for the rest to be built by HAL, but India opposes that proposal, the defence ministry source, who is familiar with the developments, said.
“Dassault says HAL does not have the capacity and capability to assemble the aircraft,” said the source, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “HAL is our main public sector partner. And if needed, capacity and capabilities can be improved. But the proposal for two contracts is not agreeable to the government of India,” he said.
The source said the dispute would likely delay finalising the deal but not derail it. Indian defence ministry officials had earlier expressed the hope that the deal could be finalised by July.
An India-based spokeswoman for Dassault did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Dassault has agreed to supply manufacturing kits and equipment to HAL on time, but will not play a further role in manufacturing after that, the Indian Express newspaper said.