France said Friday that its bid to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India, worth $15bn, will require more negotiations between Paris and New Delhi.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking to BFM-TV, said there was no chance of striking a deal before the end of the year.
Le Drian said: "We are in a positive process, I hope it will come to a successful conclusion. It has progressed well"
"It's not three weeks ... it's several months, we'll see. But I'm optimistic," the minister added.
In November, Eric Trappier, the chief executive of Dassault Aviation, which makes the jets, told Reuters that a contract by the end of March 2015 was a "reasonable goal."
Completion of the deal could see the first 18 Rafale jets being built in France, with the remainder being assembled in the subcontinent, by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics.
But negotiations between the parties have slowed following disagreements over cost and work-sharing. General elections in India, earlier in the year, also hit talks.
New Delhi picked the Rafale fighters over the Eurofighter Typhoon jets, made by EADS and financed by a four-nation consortium that includes Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy, for the Indian Airforce in 2012.
Dassault also beat US bidders Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Sweden's Saab and the Russian makers of the MiG-35.
Rafale also has a naval variant which could interest the Indian military in the future.