Rafale India Figher Jet Deal
French President Francois Hollande sits in a Rafale jet during a visit to the Dassault Aviation factory, in MarchReuters

French President Francois Hollande has said there will be no news on the sale of Rafale fighter jets to India before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to France on 9 April.

Hollande, speaking in Paris on 7 April, said: "There will be no announcement on the Rafale sales before the visit of prime minister Modi in France and I do not want the Indian premier's visit to be put in the context of a contract."

When asked about the stalled sale of 126 Rafale combat jets to the Indian Air Force, Hollande said: "We are working on it." Modi is travelling to France, Germany and Canada later in April.

Earlier, a report in the Times of India said New Delhi has asked Dassault Aviation, the maker of the Rafale, to stick to the original price tag for the fighters or risk losing the deal.

The newspaper, on 7 April, quoted an unnamed Indian official as saying Dassault wanted to increase the price to cover the increased cost of local production, and that any such escalation could be a deal-breaker. Pursued by Reuters, Dassault refused to comment.

Eurofighter swoops in

In March, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the United Kingdom could offer Eurofighters to India if France's delayed plan to sell Rafales falls through.

Hammond said that if the opportunity did arise, Eurofighter has a "very competitive offer" to make, according to reports.

In February, Dassault CEO Eric Trappier told India's PTI news agency the pricing had remained the same from day one.

Paris and New Delhi have been discussing the contract, potentially worth up to $23bn (£15.4bn, €21.2bn), for more than three years now.

The Rafale deal has reportedly hit two hurdles - the assembly of aircraft in India and price negotiations - threatening to derail one of the world's biggest defence deals.

Bone of contention

India wants Dassault to take full responsibility for the production of 108 jets at a state-run facility in Bangalore, under the 2012 bid offer.

But France has said it will help Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) to delivery the jets on schedule but it cannot give guarantee for production of aircraft built at a facility over which it has no control.

New Delhi picked the Rafale fighters over the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, made by EADS and financed by a four-nation consortium that includes Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy for the Indian Air Force in 2012.

Dassault also beat US bidders Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Sweden's Saab and the Russian makers of the MiG-35. Rafale has a naval variant that could interest the Indian military in the future.