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India negotiating to buy more Rafales, Dassault boss

A Dassault Rafale jet takes of from France's Charles de Gaulle aircrat carrier Eric Fefereg/AFP

French arms manufacturer Dassault is negotiating a new contract to sell Rafale jets to India, CEO Eric Trappier said on Sunday. Asia will be vital to the company's strategy, he said, pointing out that Malaysia is thinking of buying 18 Rafales.

"Asia will be strategic for us in the coming years, particularly India," Trappier told the Sud Ouest regional newspaper.

As well as negotiations with Malaysia for a contract that would be worth about two billion euros, Dassault is talking to India about a second contract, following the 2016 sale of 36 Rafales, a lower figure than was originally mooted.

"India's requirements are enormous," Trappier said. "For the navy, we're talking about 57 planes."

The next foreign contract is likely to be signed in 2018, according to the Dassault CEO, who was in south-west France for the anniversary of a military base in Mérignac and an air show.

Rafale had difficulty taking off in the export market but now Qatar has bought 24, Egypt 24 and India has ordered 36.