The Eurofighter Typhoon

UK could renew India Eurofighter sale bid

The UK could revive a bid to sell the Eurofighter to India after France's Dassault Aviation failed to clinch the deal.

The Prime Minister is expected to use his visit next week to India to explore the prospects for reopening negotiations on the Eurofighter Typhoon with the government in New Delhi.

It was announced more than a year ago that French contractor Dassault Aviation had been chosen as the preferred bidder for the $10bn (£6.4bn) contract to supply 126 Rafale jet fighters to the Indian air force.

The decision was seen at the time as a major setback for the UK-German-Spanish-Italian consortium – including Britain's BAE Systems – which builds the Eurofighter.

However, French leader Francois Hollande has returned from a visit to India without a signature on a final contract, despite expressing confidence a deal would be reached, raising hopes that Eurofighter could still stand a chance.

"Hollande was in India this week and a deal has not been signed so we will want to find out from the Indians how their talks are progressing with the French," a government source said.

A No 10 official added: "We respect the fact that the Indians have chosen their preferred bidder and are currently negotiating with the French. 

"Of course, we will continue to promote Eurofighter as a great fast jet not just in India but around the world."

David Cameron, who is making his second visit to India as Prime Minister, is taking a large trade delegation – including representatives of educational and cultural institutions as well as business – as part of his drive to boost links with one of the world's fastest growing economies.

He remains confident that he will meet his target of doubling Britain's trade with India from £11.5bn in 2010 to £23bn by the time of the next general election in 2015.

Among the issues he is expected to raise is improved access to Indian markets for British retailers and financial services providers.

Supermarket giant Tesco, which already has a large wholesale operation in the country, is among the companies looking to expand into the retail sector.

The issue is the subject of legislation going through the Indian parliament, although the situation could be transformed if negotiations on an EU-India free-trade agreement – which Britain strongly supports – reach a successful conclusion.

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