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Rafale deal: Dassault says no change in pricing

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BENGALURU (PTI): Confident of signing the much delayed USD 10 billion contract for Rafale fighter jets with India "soon", French Defence major Dassault on Thursday said its pricing remains the same from day one and it has not wavered from the request for proposal (RPF).

It also said an empowered team has already arrived in India and carried forward the talks as decided by the Defence Ministers of the two countries in December.

"The pricing issue is very clear. Our pricing remains the same from day one of LI (Lowest bidder). So there has been no change on that front," Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier said.

Asked about claims that Dassault is not willing to stand guarantee for the 108 jets to be made by state-run HAL here, Trappier denied there was any deviation from what the RFP said.

"We are exactly in line with our answer to (Request for Proposal (RFP). This answer led the government of India to select L1 which was Rafale. And we have stuck to the same commitment which is totally in line and compliant with the RFP," he told PTI here.

Trappier, who is here to take part in the Aero India air show, stressed that his firm is convinced that it is totally in line with the RFP.

Back in January, Indian defence sources had claimed that contract with France has run into rough weather over a guarantee clause and steep rise in price.

"The ball is in France's court," the sources had said adding that if the "RFP is adhered to, the deal can be wrapped up soon".

Sources had said that life cycle costs are high.

Dassault had this week signed a USD 5.9 billion deal with Egypt for 24 Rafale jets. This pricing is much higher than the USD 10 billion for the 126 jets that it has to provide India.

This increased fears in Indian defence circles that the cost of Rafale deal with India will also go high.

Asked about the price hike, Trappier said, "There is none. Don't forget what has been published in regard to Egypt contracts for 24 aircraft, frigates and missiles for the frigates. It is not only aircraft," he said.

When Dassault was first selected in 2012, India was to be Dassault's first country of export.

"Each country has its own way of negotiating. There was a very strong requirement from Egypt and we were able to make quickly to their strong requirement," The Dassault CEO said.

"As far as India is concerned, we have been committed to IAF and Indian government for a very long time," he said adding that negotiations are always a difficult job.

He said Dassault and HAL have had good negotiations and both now have a "good understanding" about the work share and who is manufacturing what.

Asked how soon he hoped the deal would be inked, Trappier said it was up to the Indian government.

"It is their time schedule. We are totally committed to speed up the process if we can. We are working totally transparent with the MOD," he said.

The Dassault CEO said said work is going on in the right direction.

"We are very fond of getting the deal itself so we start investing in India and begin work on the project in tune with Make in India policy of the government here," he said.

"We understand it is taking time because it is a huge deal to negotiate.... I am confident that we should see the deal to be on very soon," the CEO said.

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