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India set to allow France’s Dassault in fighter deal

India set to allow France’s Dassault in fighter deal
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First Published: Tue, May 26 2009. 03 49 PM IST
Updated: Tue, May 26 2009. 03 49 PM IST
New Delhi: India may reverse a decision blocking France’s Dassault Aviation from bidding for a $10.4 billion fighter jets deal after the company clarified technical details, a military official said on Tuesday.
The contract for 126 multi-role warplanes is one of the world’s biggest current arms deals.
Bids were submitted last year from Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp, Russia’s MiG-35, Saab’s KAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, backed by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish companies.
Dassault was barred in April after the military said there were unanswered technical questions about its Rafale jet.
“Whatever clarification was sought, they have provided. Everything indicates they are back,” an Indian Air Force official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak about the high-profile deal.
Sitanshu Kar, a defence ministry spokesman, would not confirm the move and said it could take 2-3 days to take a decision.
Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major has called a press conference on Wednesday and is expected to make an official announcement about Rafale’s return, the air force official said.
India and France signed a civilian nuclear deal in September and have spoken of widening their bilateral relations.
France is looking for its first export buyer for Rafale jets and is also in talks to sell it to Abu Dhabi, Greece and Libya.
India has said it will soon begin trials of the fighter jets.
India plans to spend more than $30 billion over the next five years to modernize its largely Soviet-era weapons systems.
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First Published: Tue, May 26 2009. 03 49 PM IST