India mulls Boeing Globemaster III deal

Oct. 19, 2010 at 4:31 PM   |   0 comments

NEW DELHI, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- India and Boeing remained locked in negotiations for the former's purchase of as many as 10 military transport aircraft by Dec. 15.

India's indecision led to the cancellation of a previous contract for the purchase of A330-based refueling tankers from Airbus last December. The same program was rebid last month.

"On the basis of our experience, we are thoroughly analyzing and reviewing the situation," Barbara Kracht, vice president of communications at Airbus Military was quoted saying in Aviation Week.

Boeing is also said to have the request for proposals from the Indian government. It hasn't taken any decision yet. If it does agree, Vivek Lall, head of Boeing Defense Space and Security in India, was quoted saying, then the defense aerospace giant could offer a variant of the KC-767 Tanker Transport.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified the U.S. Congress that it may allow the sale of 10 Globemaster III aircraft to India. The sale is expected to reach about $6 billion.

The advanced airplanes are intended to replace India's aging fleet of Russian-made Ilyushin IL-76s. They were largely deployed by the United States in Iraq as well as Afghanistan.

Other defense companies vying for the contract include Russia's Ilyushin, with its Il-78 models, and Israel Aerospace Industries, which recently began flight trials of the single Boeing 767-200ER that it converted to a multi-mission tanker transport configuration for the Colombian air force.

As the second-largest U.S. defense contractor, Boeing is hoping to bid for $31 billion worth of military contracts in India as the government forges ahead with plans to boost its military might in the region.

It will be competing against defense industry giants including Lockheed Martin and other suppliers for a string of orders India is set to make in the coming years.

Analysts however anticipate the transport plane deal to be signed ahead of a visit to India by U.S. President Barack Obama next month.

Ties between India and the United States have expanded greatly since 2005 when the former U.S. president signed a civilian nuclear technology agreement with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India announced plans recently to spend up to $30 billion on its military by 2012.

In recent months, also, it inducted a long-range, nuclear-tipped missile into its armed forces, unveiling, also, a defense spending budget spiked by 24 percent since last year.

The moves have Pakistan fretting, with leading officials billing India's drive a "massive militarization."

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