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BAE holds out hope for mega-contract with India

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Eurofighter Typhoon. Photo: Eurofighter

LONDON (AFP): British arms manufacturer BAE Systems has said it held out hope that India may reverse its decision to negotiate a mega-contract for 126 fighter jets exclusively with France's Dassault Aviation.

In a lacklustre earnings statement Thursday, BAE said it still felt a deal with India could bounce its way despite a shock decision from the former colony long seen as a privileged partner for Britain.

India announced in late January it had selected Dassault, builder of the Rafale, over BAE as the preferred bidder in a contract estimated to be worth USD 12 billion.

The Eurofighter Typhoon project, which had been seen as the frontrunner, involves Britain's BAE and companies in Germany, Italy and Spain.

If concluded, the contract would mark the first time the French jet had found an export partner, despite being in service with the French military since 1998 and having proved itself in several conflicts.

France is confident that it can sign and seal a firm deal to supply India the jets within six to nine months.

But BAE, who owns 33 per cent of the Eurofighter project, said it would keep fighting for the India deal.

"The programme has a long way to go before a contract is awarded and we continue to actively support the bid," BAE said in its earnings statement.

BAE chief executive Ian King added that the consortium partners were exploring all options including a discount on the aircraft, though he added there were limits on how far the consortium would go.

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India  MMRCA  BAE  
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