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Sure to buy French Rafale jets: Indian Air Force

AFP/ PTI  |  Paris 

India will not veer from its decision to award a $12-billion-dollar contract to France for Rafale fighter planes, the Indian Air Force chief of staff said in an interview published online.

"We have a procedure as per the defense procurement policy that stipulates the contract goes to the lowest bidder," Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne told the US monthly Aviation International at the Singapore Airshow.

India chose Dassault Aviation's Rafale plane over the Typhoon built by Eurofighter, a consortium made up of British group BAE Sytems, Europe's EADS and Italy's Finmeccanica.

Browne added in the interview posted Thursday that they have begun negotiations to finalise the contract for 126 planes and that any decision now to involve another manufacturer would be "procedurally untenable."

He was speaking after Rafale's rival Eurofighter said it still hoped to win the contract, despite Dassault being chosen for exclusive negotiations.

BAE Systems, which has a 33% stake in the consortium, said yesterday that it still "actively" upholds its Typhoon offer, adding: "There is still a long way to go before the contract is awarded."

The contract negotiations committee opened Dassault Aviation's Rafale bid on February 13 and identified the French company as its lowest bidder.

Browne called the Rafale selection "Brilliant!" in the AIN interview and added: "We got it at the best cost possible. The decision was based on performance and Rafale passed all qualifications."

First Published: Fri, February 17 2012. 20:55 IST