DAVID Cameron was today trying to rescue the deal for India buying East Lancashire-made Eurofighter Typhoon jets in meetings with the country's premier and president.
The Prime MInister said last night he would ask if the New Delhi authorities were ready to “reconsider” their choice of a French rival.
He stressed the substantive negotiations were for the four-nation Eurofighter consortium - which includes BAE Systems whose Salmesbury and Warton factories build the planes.
Hopes seemed dashed when French contractor Dassault Aviation was chosen last year as the preferred bidder for the £6.4 billion contract to supply 126 warplanes to the Indian air force.
They revived when French president Francois Hollande returned from a recent visit to New Delhi without a signature on a final contract.
Speaking in Mumbai, Mr Cameron said: “I think Typhoon is a superior aircraft. It has the advantage of all the partner nations behind it. We can make some aeroplanes available within months because there are so many countries already using it.
“I will obviously make clear that Typhoon is still available.”
Mr Cameron said the UK could forge one of “the great partnerships of the 21st Century” with India, as he began a three-day visit with the largest trade delegation taken overseas by a UK prime minister.
It includes BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and Balfour Beatty a major player in the East Lancashire construction industry.
Mr Cameron said on arrival: “India’s rise is going to be one of the great phenomena of this century and it is incredibly impressive to see.”
The visit follows Khalid Saifullah, chairman of Blackburn with Darwen’s Hive network of business leaders, highlighting the links between East Lancashire’s South Asian community and the sub-continent as a major export opportunity.
Mike Damms, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a very important visit.
“If the Prime Minister could revive the Eurofighter deal that would be huge not just for BAE systems but its supply chain across East Lancashire.
“We need to do more to boost trade between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh using the links we have with our Asian heritage population.”