Jan 5, 2009

Business - India signs 2.1 bln dollar plane deal with Boeing

India has signed a 2.1 billion dollar deal with US aerospace giant Boeing to buy maritime surveillance aircraft for the Indian navy, officials told AFP on Monday.

The agreement to buy eight P-81 long-range reconnaissance aircraft marks India's biggest military aircraft deal with the United States, defence ministry officials said. The contract was signed on January 1 in New Delhi.

"The deal is finally through and we will receive the first P-81 in 2013 while the remaining seven will be procured in a phased manner over the next three or four years," a senior official said on condition he not be named.

The contract includes lifetime maintenance support and an option for the acquisition of up to eight additional P-81 aircraft, the official said.

The deal comes less than a year after India and US-based Lockheed Martin signed an agreement worth 962 million dollars for the purchase of six C-130 Hercules transport planes for the Indian army.

Both Lockheed and Boeing are also in the race for a 12-billion-dollar contract to sell 126 fighter jets to the Indian air force. Four other global companies from France, Russia, and the European Union are in the race for the world's richest fighter jet deal in 16 years.

India last year also signed a 1.5-billion euro (2.2 billion dollar) deal with France's Dassault to upgrade 51 Mirage 2000 fighter jets, which the Indian air force bought in 1985.

India, the largest buyer of armaments among emerging nations, plans to spend 30 billion dollars until 2012 to modernise its 1.23-million-strong military, the world's fourth largest.

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