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Fox to discuss Eurofighter bid for IAF during visit


BAE Systems' Typhoon

LONDON (PTI): The Eurofighter Typhoon consortium is to offer India the technological blueprint of its jets in a bid to secure a whopping 7.1-billion-pound contract to sell 126 combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force.

Britain's Defence Secretary Liam Fox will take up the issue with Indian authorities in Delhi in the next couple of days during his visit there.

According to 'The Sunday Times', Fox's meetings with Defence Minister A K Antony Monday and on Tuesday will mark another chapter in the intense lobbying of the Indian government for the 7.1 billion-pound contract.

Fox's visit, the first of a British defence secretary in six years, has been described as "pivotal" as the debate on the jet deal shifts from a technical to a more political phase.

The Typhoon received a boost in the race for the biggest defence deal in India's history after it was ranked in the top two of the Indian Air Force's technical trials of all six bidding aircraft, which included America's F-16 and F-18 and Sweden's Gripen, the paper said.

The report quoted Andrew Gallagher, chief executive of BAE Systems India, as saying that the deal being offered to India would bring New Delhi in as a full "fifth partner", including the transfer of full technical sovereignty, access to computer source codes and the objective of making the entire aircraft in Indian factories.

Fox will be followed over the next couple of months by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy.

They will be pushing Delhi to opt, respectively, for MiG-35 and Dassault Aviation's Rafale when the decision is made next year, the report said.

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