UK today said the Europe-backed Eurofighter could hold negotiations with India for the supply 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) if the talks for the multi-billion dollar deal with French major Dassault Aviation do not make progress.
Making it clear that his country respects the "position the Indian government has adopted", visiting UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said, "Eurofighter has made it very clear that should the negotiations not progress with the French then we are ready to get into negotiations with the Indian government".
Speaking to reporters here, Fallon said UK was "ideally placed to contribute significantly" to India's defence sector.
His comments even though France voiced satisfaction yesterday over the ongoing negotiations for the finalisation of the MMRCA contract, saying it was moving in the "right direction".
French envoy to India Francois Richier had played down the delay in the finalisation of the much-delayed contract for the supply of Rafale fighter planes, saying that such "complex" issues does take time.
The French firm was selected in January 2012 by India for supplying 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force.
The negotiations have lately slowed down over some issues, including the imposition of liquidity damages or penalties for any delays in the supply of the aircraft to be manufactured in the country.
India had selected the French Rafale combat aircraft after an over five-year process where five other firms manufacturing American F/A-18 and F-16, Russian MiG 35, European Eurofighter and Swedish Saab Gripen were also in the race.
However, the process of finalising the contract has been quite slow and still the role and responsibilities to be shared between the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Dassault Aviation have not been fully agreed upon.
Out of the 126 aircraft to be manufactured for the IAF, 18 are proposed to be supplied directly by the French from their facilities in France whereas the remaining 108 are planned to be built in HAL facilities in Bangalore.