Multi-role Rafael jet

India will take a final decision on the Rafale fighter jet deal only after March, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday.

At the Aero India 2015 air show, the Defence Minister said that the ministry's Contract Negotiations Committee (CNC) to report back by early next month.

The French Rafale won a tightly contested deal, with Russian, European, American and Swedish companies vying for the contract.

The deal, initially worth $12 billion, and could almost total $20 billion, would see 126 jets, with 18 completely built jets being supplied to the Indian Air Force and the rest to be contract manufactured by India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics.

The deal has been stuck over Dassault's reluctance to offer guarantees for the aircraft to be produced in India.

"It would be clinically insane for Dassault to guarantee HAL-built planes. The only way forward for the program is to drop this absurd idea," said Richard Aboulafia, vice-president of analysis at aerospace and defence consultancy Teal Group to Reuters.

A few Indian news reports indicate that the deal could be in trouble.

However, this week France closed an unexpected aircraft deal with Egypt, supplying 24 Rafale jets, which could prove to be an inducement to several other deals being finalised, including the Indian deal, noted a source.

France is currently in "final stage" discussions with Middle Eastern Qatar for the supply of 36 aircrafts and is also conducting negotiations with the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

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