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India signals end of larger Rafale deal

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the purchase of 36 Rafale jets alongside French President François Hollande in Paris, 10 April 2015. Reuters/Charles Platiau

India has signalled the end of talks for a larger deal with French manufacturer Dassault Aviation to purchase more Rafale jets.

Any future Indian purchase of Rafale jets will come through direct talks with the French government, rather than between the manufacturer and Indian bureaucrats, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced last week that New Delhi had ordered 36 ready-to-fly Rafale fighter jets from France in a multi-billion-dollar agreement after three years of negotiations.

The original negotiations to buy 126 Rafale jets from Dassault had been stalled as the two sides have not been able to agree on cost and where the planes would be assembled. India has wanted the twin-engine fighters to be built by India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics in Bengaluru.

The value of the deal was estimated to have grown to about 19 billion euros from an initial 11 billion euros.

Speaking to Indian news channel IBN 7, Parrikar said there was no solution in sight.

"The process is stalled. It has hit a wall and is not getting (any) result," he told IBN 7.

"The reason we have taken 36 directly is to ensure that they are inducted into the air force at the earliest," he added.

India has launched a vast defence modernisation programme to keep up with its rival neighbours Pakistan and China.

Its order of the 36 jets is manufacturer Dassault's largest yet abroad. Paris announced the sale of 24 Rafale jets to Egypt in February.