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India eyes Typhoons in air drill with U.K.

The Eurofighter Typhoon military aircraft performs during the opening of the 46th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget near Paris, France on June 13, 2005. ..(UPI Photo/David Silpa)
The Eurofighter Typhoon military aircraft performs during the opening of the 46th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget near Paris, France on June 13, 2005. ..(UPI Photo/David Silpa) | License Photo

NEW DELHI, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- India and the United Kingdom have taken to aerial war-games expected to assess India's first participation of airborne early warning and control system aircraft and interest in Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters.

The Typhoon is competition for the Indian air force's $10 billion medium multirole combat aircraft tender and the joint exercise marks the first time that the Indian air force will be afforded first-hand evaluation of the aircraft.

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Typhoon's makers are in talks with a host of Indian firms to plug them into the Europe consortium's global supply chain, in a move which company officials and military analysts say could pave the way for a rash of lucrative deals.

The joint exercise, due to be concluded Nov. 3, opts to include combined maneuvers intended to help pilots improve their skills.

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Emphasis will also be given to "exposing the controllers of AWACS aircraft to large-scale engagements and protection of high-value assets in addition to management of logistical needs," the Sify Web site reported.

It is an opportunity, Indian Air Marshal K.K. Nohwar was reported saying, "for both the air forces to get an insight into each others' operational philosophies and work cultures. This will greatly enhance the understanding of our air force to operate in scenario involving state-of-the-art technologies."

India announced plans recently to spend up to $30 billion on its military by 2012. Last week, it said it was 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.

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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.

Boeing will be competing against defense industry giants including Lockheed Martin and other suppliers for a string of orders set to sealed within the coming year.

Eurofighter Typhoon is competing with U.S. and Russian models to win a contract for 126 fighter jets estimated at about $11 billion. The Typhoon is co-produced by European firms that include EADS, BAE Systems and Finmeccanica.

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Eurofighter has said that its plans to engage with Indian suppliers were independent of the 126 jet tender which is due to be decided on within the next six months.

"This demonstrates our commitment to integrating India into the program as a true and equal industrial partner," Bernhard Gerwert, chairman of the supervisory board of Eurofighter GmbH, told a group of journalists in New Delhi.

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