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UK keen to offer Eurofighter to India

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Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet.

SINGAPORE (PTI): A UK trade body has said that it still sees the potential of supplying Eurofighter to India, which has postponed till the next fiscal its plan to buy 126 fighter planes from France's Dassault Aviation.

"We are very keen, should the opportunity arise, to offer India a cost effective solution," Adam Thomas, a senior spokesman for the Defence & Security Organization at the UK Trade and Investment, told PTI at the Singapore Airshow.

Noting that the Indian government was still in discussion with Dassault Aviation, he said, "We respect the Indian system and, if asked, clearly we would be happy to talk to the Indian government."

The deal for the 126 jets, when concluded, will be the largest ever for combat aircraft.

Thomas noted that India's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme is one of the major attractions to woo foreign direct investment (FDI) to the country's defence sector.

He said UK's defence industry has welcomed India's decision to raise FDI in defence to 49 per cent from 26 per cent.

"We hope that there could be more flexibility in the future to make India an attractive partner for inward investment," he said.

Thomas expressed the UK's defence industry's interest in establishing "strong business relationships" with Indian private and public sectors.

"India remains an important security market for the United Kingdom," he said.

"We have seen quite a capability development in the Indian public and private sectors. We have also seen how the electronics industry has developed not only to provide for the India armed forces but also holds the potential of exporting equipment," said Thomas, who was part of the UK delegation at Defexpo held in New Delhi earlier this month.

"We want to find how we can get British companies to work with the Indians to jointly develop equipment that can be used not only by the Indian armed forces, but perhaps the UK armed forces and export to a third market," he said.

"We see Indian companies as joint venture partners. We see supplying to the Indian market around a theme of partnership," said Thomas, noting that both the UK and Indian armed forces were undergoing transformations.

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