PARIS — India is fine-tuning a contract to buy 126 French-made Rafale fighter jets, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said Jan. 10, adding that Paris would have to “wait a little” to pop the bubbly.
India last year selected Dassault Aviation as its preferred bidder in a $10 billion (7.6 billion euro) contract to equip its air force with new fighter jets.
“We know good French wine takes time to mature, and so do good contracts,” Khurshid said after a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. “The contract details are being worked out,” he said. “A decision has already been taken; just wait a little for the cork to pop and you’ll have some good wine to taste.”
France is keen to make its first foreign sale of the Rafale, which has struggled to find buyers to support a project that has cost tens of billions of euros. If the contract is finalized, the first 18 aircraft will be supplied directly by Dassault, and the remainder will be produced under license by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, a state-run Indian firm, in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
Fabius also struck an upbeat note, saying that while the final choice was up to New Delhi, Khurshid had assured him that “things are proceeding well”