Eurofighter still in race for India jet deal: CEO

ABU DHABI Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:00pm IST

People look at an Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft on display during the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre February 17, 2013. REUTERS/Ben Job

People look at an Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft on display during the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre February 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ben Job

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ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The chief of the Eurofighter Typhoon said on Monday that it is still in the race for a fighter jet deal in India as British Prime Minster David Cameron began his tour to win new trade in the Asian country.

"We believe the Eurofighter is still there," Eurofighter Chief Executive Enzo Casolini said at a press briefing in Abu Dhabi. "We are on standby, in case they come back to us."

India started exclusive talks with France's Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) for an order of 126 Rafale jets worth $10 billion in January 2012, over the competing British-backed Typhoon.

However, more than a year later, the two sides still have yet to sign a final contract because of disagreements over the cost of building them in India.

David Cameron arrived in India on Monday to try to win new trade and investment and is hoping New Delhi will change its mind and choose the Eurofighter.

Cameron's job of persuading India to buy more civil and military hardware will not be easy. India said on Friday it wanted to cancel a $750 million deal for a dozen helicopters made by AgustaWestland, the Anglo-Italian subsidiary of Italy's Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI), over bribery claims.

A British government source said last week that Hollande had not finalised the Rafale deal during his own trip to India earlier in the month.

The Typhoon was developed by a consortium of BAE (BAES.L), Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI) of Italy and EADS EAD.PA.

"I think our technology transfer offer to India was fantastic. And India had a very demanding target," Casolini said. (Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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