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New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) Eric Trappier, chairman and chief executive officer of Dassault Aviation, the maker of Rafale combat jets, Thursday said he does not see any serious fall out of the Finmeccanica controversy on the Rafale deal.
Trappier, who is currently in India as part of the delegation accompanying French President Francois Hollande told IANS that he was very satisfied with the progress in negotiations and discussions that Dassault has been having with various Indian institutions and partners, including the Ministry of Defence, the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited and Reliance Industries, among others.
On the sidelines of the Indo-French business meet, organised by FICCI, CII and Assocham at Taj Palace hotel here, Trappier said the discussions were now centred on the technical issues - mainly the part that deals with the manufacturing of the 108 jets that HAL is supposed to make in India.
He said HAL needs to get the industrial capacity to be able to build the aircraft, but Dassault had no issues with the transfer of technology to HAL and its other Indian partners. "We will be happy to transfer all the technology that the French government will allow us to. I don't see any IPR-related issues with India or our Indian partners on this," he says.
India plans to sign a $10.4 billion MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) deal with French Rafale for purchase of 127 aircraft.
On the offsets, he said the Indian IT companies could also play a role in the offsets, which have been mandated to be at least 50 percent by the Indian government.
On the performance of Rafale in the recent French intervention in Mali, Trappier said that the incident was unfortunate, as any war is, but it displayed the might of Rafale and the utility of the aircraft for a country like India. He also said he was very optimistic that the final deal would be signed in the coming months and that he did not foresee any major hurdle to the signing of the deal.
He added that if the officials of the host country (India) were saying that they expected the deal to be signed in the next few months, it was a very encouraging sign.
The head of Italian defence group Finmeccanica, the owners of AgustaWestland, was arrested earlier this week over ongoing corruption investigations into his group. Finmeccanica Chief Executive and Chairman Giuseppe Orsi was arrested in connection with a deal wherein Rs.4,000 crore of bribes were allegedly paid to secure a contract for AgustaWestland helicopters in 2010 for VVIP travel in India.
(Ranvir Nayar can be contacted at email@example.com)