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India Considering European Jets: Source

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India was only considering France's Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon, produced by a consortium of European companies for one of the world's biggest defence deals, a source said, confirming a report in the Hindustan Times newspaper.

Lockheed Martin's F-16 and Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, along with Russia's MiG-35 and Sweden's Saab JAS-39, did not meet the Indian Air Force's technical requirements and were disqualified, the paper reported.

"That information is correct. The four have been disqualified," the official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said.

The order for 126 air and ground attack fighters has been keenly contested by global defence firms and has seen lobbying from US president Barack Obama, France's Nicholas Sarkozy and Russia's Dmitry Medvedev.

India's decision on a final bidder is likely be based not only on technology and price, but also on its desire to diversify from its traditional Russian deals and expand strategic alliances with the United States and Europe.

A New Delhi-based spokeswoman for Lockheed said it was told by US authorities that Washington would respond to the Indian defence ministry's letter on the competition.

Saab, in a statement from Sweden, said its plane was not shortlisted for the bid. A Boeing spokeswoman did not respond to requests for a comment. Other officials were not immediately available for comment.

The purchase will elevate India's air power capabilities and allow it to deploy the weaponry near the western and north-eastern frontiers to tackle any threat from Pakistan or China.

New Delhi fears Beijing is trying to strategically encircle it as the two emerging economies compete for resources globally, while Pakistan already has the F-16 fighters in its fleet.

(Reuters)