Rafale deal "highest priority" in India FY14 budget: air force chief

BANGALORE Thu Feb 7, 2013 12:36pm IST

A Dassault Rafale combat aircraft, which has been selected by the Indian Air Force for purchase, performs during the inauguration ceremony of the ''Aero India 2013'' at Yelahanka air force station on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Bangalore February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A Dassault Rafale combat aircraft, which has been selected by the Indian Air Force for purchase, performs during the inauguration ceremony of the ''Aero India 2013'' at Yelahanka air force station on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Bangalore February 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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BANGALORE (Reuters) - India's agreement to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets from France's Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) is of the "highest priority" in India's budget for the upcoming financial year that begins in April, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said on Thursday.

India picked the Rafale jet for exclusive negotiations over a year ago after a hotly contested bidding war with rival manufacturers, but is still to finalize the $10 billion deal.

The deal would not be signed during a visit of French President Francois Hollande to India next week, a diplomatic source said on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Anurag Kotoky; Writing by Henry Foy; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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