Both officials said another contentious issue in the negotiations was the selection of India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) as partner of Dassault to manufacture planes in India.
Rafale has expressed doubts about the technological capability of HAL to manufacture such a sophisticated fighter jet, the official said. A HAL program to manufacture advanced jet trainers is running years behind schedule.
However, India has told French negotiators that provisions of entering into a joint venture with HAL to produce fighter jets was non-negotiable and there was no question of involving any private company in the deal, the officials said.
The visit by the French president could further help speed up the negotiations, the second official said.
He said both countries were committed to the deal, and India’s defense minister, A.K. Antony, and the Indian air force chief, N.A.K Browne, were making it a top priority during the upcoming fiscal year that begins in April.