France is working to ensure that no ripple effect of the Finmeccanica bribery scandal disrupts the long-anticipated contract to supply 126 Dassault Rafale fighters to the Indian air force.
“We will do nothing contrary to the principles that we stand for and rules of trade that are based on the principles of competitiveness and fairness,” says French President Francois Hollande, during his two-day visit to India, in which he discussed the estimated $18 billion fighter aircraft deal with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Eric Trappier, chairman and chief executive officer of Dassault Aviation, doesn’t expect the fighter deal to be affected by any fallout from the Finmeccanica controversy, which involves alleged bribes made by the company to Indian officials over the $750 million deal for 12 VVIP AgustaWestland helicopters. Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi was arrested this week on graft charges.
Trappier told a wire service here that he is satisfied with the progress being made in negotiations between the company and various Indian institutions and partners, including the Indian defense ministry, Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd., Bharat Electronics Ltd. and Reliance Industries, among others.
Trappier also expresses confidence that the final deal will be signed in the coming months.
During Hollande’s visit, India and France also discussed progress on a short-range surface-to-air missile project they have been working on for the past few years. Both sides have concluded negotiations on the project, “which, once approved by the government, will be co-developed and co-produced in India,” Singh says.
Rafale photo: Dassault