India eyes $1 billion Sikorsky chopper deal, other US arms

sikorsky_sh60b_seahawkNEW YORK –In a deal that would enhance India-US defence ties, and bolster India’s defence capabilities, New Delhi is expected to choose Sikorsky S-70B Sea Hawk helicopters at a 16-aircraft tender worth over $1 billion.

India, which is the largest importer of US manufactured arms, will sign this deal during the India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with US’ President Barak Obama in Washington.

This deal is one of the several deals under consideration between the two countries. The two are also considering a deal worth over 2.5 billion USD for the Boeing’s AH-64D Apache and the twin rotor CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

Reportedly, this deal would lay the foundation for purchases of 123 helicopters by the Indian Navy.

Enhanced cooperation in defence has grown to be one of the pillars of India-US ties.

Ahead of the Modi’s visit to the US, Washington gave the nod to co-develop or manufacture 34 cutting-edge weapon systems including technical know-how to India.

These include, among others, the turnkey transfer of technology for Javelin missiles. These infra-red guided missiles have a range of around 5 kilometres and can detect, track and destroy tanks.

US weapons makers too are keen to sell to India’s huge market. Of late they have been optimistic about the New Delhi’s reform agenda in the defence sectors which has increased the FDI (foreign direct investment) equity cap from 26 percent to 49 percent.

Boeing, which has a huge presence in India, is expected to deliver a sixth P-8I aircraft to India by the end of 2014. It will deliver two more aircraft in 2015.

The Indian Prime Minister is also scheduled to meet Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney during his US visit.

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