BANGALORE, India, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Europe's BAE Systems has heeded a request by the Indian navy for information concerning the purchase of Typhoon combat jets.
The news came during the Aero India 2011 show, the biggest defense exhibit in Southeast Asia, where BAE presented the Indian naval Typhoon.
The announcement came as the Financial Times reported that the Eurofighter consortium was poised to offer India a "manufacturing role as the international race intensifies to supply 126 jet fighters worth $11billion to New Delhi.
Competitors are said to include the Lockheed Martin F-16IN Super Viper, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Saab JAS-39 Gripen and the Mikoyan MiG-35.
That the U.S. Pentagon is considering the possible release of Joint Strike Fighter program technology to India marks a significant shift in policy toward New Delhi, a change resulting from growing concern over the military growth of China.
The Typhoon is co-produced by European firms that include EADS, BAE Systems and Finmeccanica.
India announced plans recently to spend up to $30 billion on its military by 2012. In recent weeks, also it said that locking in negotiations with Boeing, the second-largest U.S. defense contractor, which is hoping to bid for $31 billion worth of military contracts in India in the coming years.
A KPMG report estimates India's defense spending will swell even further, forecasting about $112 billion on defense procurement by 2016, creating offset opportunities worth $30 billion for the domestic industry.
Pictures presented by BAE at Aero India showed "an aircraft model with a number of modifications compared to the land-based Typhoon being offered to the Indian air force in a contest to provide a medium, multi-role combat aircraft," the Defense News Web site reported.
"Most obvious is the conformal tanks and thrust vectoring nozzles," it said, adding that there were also more subtle changes included in the undercarriage and strengthening of the airframe to take the Typhoon to sea.
It wasn't immediately clear whether Indian navy officials had been convinced with the feasibility plan presented by BAE.
If so, then the company will have two additional hurdles to overcome before clinching a deal with India's navy.
The first requires the Typhoon beating rivals competing for the air force order. And the second, as Defense News reported, spawns from whether the Indian navy will "decide if it will continue to use ski jumps on its expanding aircraft carrier force or start to switch to a catapult and arrestor gear configuration."
Meeting catapult requirements, company officials explained, would burden the aircraft, blunt its performance and spike costs.