India to buy 166 new fighter jets

Deal for delivery of 40 Russian Sukhoi fighters is announced at Bangalore air show.

    India has said it will buy 40 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets before the end of this financial year [Sukhoi]
    Ty said the advanced Sukhoi jets would cost slightly less $40m each and would be delivered within three years.
     
    Aero India - a five-day display of the world's latest military and civilian aircraft - is being held in Bangalore, a city in southern India.
     
    Invitation
     
    A K Antony, India's defence minister, had already said on Wednesday that he would soon invite offers from companies interested in supplying India with 126 new fighter aircraft.
     
    "It [the request for proposals] is almost in the final stage. I can assure you it will be at the earliest," he said at the start of the country's largest ever," he said.
     
    "We feel that the modernisation [of the armed forces] is the most important agenda of the government ... By a strong deterrent only we can prevent even a war."
     
    Antony said that India wants to replace its ageing MiG-21s and British Jaguar planes with more modern models.
     
    More purchases
     
    The defence minister also said the Indian government would procure $8bn to $10bn worth of defence equipment in the next five years as part of its modernisation programme.
     
    India - which already has one of the world's largest air forces - raised its defence spending by seven per cent to $20bn for the year ending March 2007.
     
    News of India's plans to expand its air force has prompted the world's largest aviation firms to flock to the air show to display their latest aircraft.
     
    The 126-plane deal has so far attracted interest from European manufacturers like France's Dassault which is promoting its Rafale fighter, and Sweden's Saab, eager to sell its JAS-39 Gripen.
     
    On display
     
    The Russians are also pushing their cutting-edge MiG-35 fighter which they have brought to the Bangalore air show.
     
    Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin's F-16 are also competing for the contract.
     
    Eurofighter, which is made by a consortium of European aircraft makers including Airbus parent EADS, Britain's BAE Systems and Italy's Finmeccanica, said on Wednesday it too would aggressively compete for the Indian order.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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