* 2012 net profit 510 mln euros
* Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S forecast 440 mln euros
* Still trying to finalise India Rafale deal
PARIS, March 14 (Reuters) - French aircraft maker Dassault beat 2012 profit expectations, helped by a gradual recovery in the business jet market which it expects to continue this year.
Consolidated net income rose to 510 million euros ($660 million) from 323 million in 2011, beating analysts’ average forecast of 440 million in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll.
The maker of Falcon business jets and France’s Rafale warplanes said on Thursday it expected to deliver around 70 Falcon jets this year, up from 66 in 2011.
It described the business jet market as “convalescent,” but hoped for further recovery this year “especially in the United States.”
Sales of the Rafale were flat at 11, as all of its output was again bought by the French military, which faces budget cuts. Dassault expects 2013 sales to remain at the same level.
More than a year after starting exclusive talks to sell 126 Rafale jets worth $10 billion to India, Dassault said it was still trying to finalise the contract.