Indian air force to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets

NIRMALA GEORGE
Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — India has decided to buy 126 French-made Rafale combat aircraft for the Indian air force, clinching a massive $11 billion defense deal, a top government official said Tuesday.

The French aviation company Dassault snapped up the $11 billion deal after emerging with the lowest bid in a two-way competition against the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, the official said.

The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters about the sensitive defense deal.

Planes from Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin of the United States and from Russian and Swedish makers were dropped from consideration earlier.

The deal is the 1st foreign deal for Dassault's fighter jets.

India, the world's biggest arms importer, is being wooed by major international arms manufacturers as it replaces its obsolete Soviet-era weapons.

Eighteen fighter aircraft will be delivered in "fly away" condition within 36 months and the remaining 108 are to be built by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. through technology transfers.

Defense ministry experts were still fine-tuning pricing details, including the cost of on-board weaponry and royalties for producing the aircraft in India.