Dassault Rafale Jets
France's Dassault hopes to sign $15bn Rafale India deal this year. Reuters

Dassault Aviation expects to sign a deal to sell Rafale combat jets to India by the end of the year following the election of business-friendly candidate Narendra Modi as the nation's new prime minister, said chief executive Eric Trappier.

A contract could see a bulk of the 126 fighters assembled in India, Asia's third-largest economy.

The Indian military establishment had earlier deferred the plan to buy the 126 fighters, a deal estimated to be worth $15bn (£8.91bn, €10.93bn), until the 2014/15 financial year owing to budget constraints.

"It's reassuring for us, because I think that will accelerate the process further," Trappier said on 19 May on the sidelines of the Ebace business aviation show, reported Reuters.

Aircraft Carriers

India recently bought an aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which gives it the strongest naval air power in the region outside of the US.

India is building its own two 40,000-tonne vessels named Vishal and Vikrant. The first is due to be completed within four years.

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.

Rafale also has a naval variant which could interest the Indian military in the future.

Dassault beat US bidders Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Sweden's Saab and the Russian makers of the MiG-35.