`Loss of India jet deal to have consequences`
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Last Updated: Thursday, February 02, 2012, 21:38
London: A prominent UK trade union has warned that India's decision to opt for 126 French-made Rafale fighter jets instead of the UK-backed Typhoon aircraft will have "serious implications" for the UK aerospace industry.

"We are concerned about the serious implications this decision may have and want urgent talks with the company about future plans for the workforce," Ian Waddell, national officer for aerospace and shipbuilding at Unite, said.

Unite warned the selection of the Rafale could have "serious implications" for BAE Systems and the UK aerospace industry. It is estimated that 40,000 UK jobs are supported by the project, The Telegraph said.

"The latest decision by the Indian government to select a French fighter aircraft over the BAE Systems Typhoon, highlights how important it is to support British jobs when it is within the power of the government to do so," Waddell said.

Last year, BAE cut 3,000 jobs in the UK, partly because it had won fewer export orders for the Typhoon than planned.

"This government should be using procurement to support British companies, rather than using it against them," Waddell said.

The Typhoon is made by Britain's BAE, European giant EADS, and Italy's Finmeccanica. The UK accounts for 37.5 per cent of production with the aircraft assembled at BAE's aerospace facilities in Lancashire and suppliers including GKN, Ultra Electronics and Rolls-Royce.

India's fighter deal with France is a blow to British Prime Minister David Cameron, because the contract could lay the groundwork for a strategic partnership with India, The Telegraph said.

"Cameron personally lobbied Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh last year while Britain's Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton met his Indian counterpart in Calcutta," the paper said.

Reacting to India's decision, Cameron yesterday said he would do "everything he can" to "encourage" India to reconsider its decision to acquire French-made Rafale fighter jets instead of the UK-backed Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.

"Of course, I will do everything I can, as I have already, to encourage the Indians to look at Typhoon," Cameron told Parliament.

India announced on Tuesday that it will opt for Dassault Rafale fighter jets under the biggest-ever military contract that may be worth over USD 10 billion.

"The decision is obviously disappointing," Cameron said, insisting that the contract had not yet been awarded to the French firm.

Cameron said the Typhoon was "a superb aircraft, with further capability than Rafale and we will try to encourage the Indians to take that view".


First Published: Thursday, February 02, 2012, 21:38

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