Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Merkel to push for Eurofighter deal during India visit

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, May 30, IRNA -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel will push for the sale of 126 Eurofighters when she visits India on Tuesday, German government circles were quoted saying in Berlin on Monday.

A chancellery official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was 'important' to promote 'politically' the estimated seven-billion euro project when Merkel is in New Delhi.

The bidding process is now in the final phase, he added.

The German official refused to give further details on the likely sale of Euorfighters which is a consortium comprising Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy.

Germany's opposition parties have lambasted the possible deal, saying it would only lead to further escalation on the Indian subcontinent.

With European fighter jets surging ahead of the American jets in the hotly-contested race to bag the gigantic project to supply 126 medium multi-role fighter aircraft (MMRCA), India has now virtually shortlisted two out of the six contenders in the fray.

The Eurofighter Typhoon and France's Rafale combat jets are reportedly on the shortlist of the jets which have met the technical requirements, even though US has been pressing hard to sell its F/A-18 'Super Hornet' and F-16 'Falcon' jets.

The other two are Sweden's Gripen and Russia's MiG-35 fighter jets.

Though there was no official word from the defence ministry on Wednesday, sources said the sealed commercial bids of the shortlisted aviation majors will now be opened for the final negotiations to select the eventual winner in this 'mother of all defence deals'.

Under the project, 18 jets will be bought off-the-shelf, while 108 will be manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd after transfer of technology.

OT**1412
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30410322



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