New Delhi: India plans to buy 40 Hawk trainer jets for its airforce from British Aerospace (BAe) in addition to 66 purchased for $1.45 billionin 2004, officials said Wednesday.
The air force is in a hurry to acquire more trainers to ready rookie pilots for 126 new fighter aircraft India is set to acquire for more than $10 billion later this year.
“The deal (for the 40 trainers) is now as good as done,” a senior airforce commander told AFP.
“We’d originally asked for 120 and now the proposal is for 40 units which is with the defence ministry and awaiting a clearance from the cabinet committee on security affairs,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Other military officers said the Indian navy has separately demanded another 17 BAe trainers and the two proposals could be converted into a single contract.
“At Rs850 million apiece ($21.8 million) the tender for the airforce alone will be $872 million,” the airforce official said.
Senior officials at India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) said the planes would be built under licence at the state-run facility in the southern Indian city of Bangalore after the deal is cleared.
The HAL officials asked not to be named and the company declined official comment.
“We’re monitoring the situation and if the Hawk deal should happen then we will be delighted to support HAL in fulfilling that order,” Guy Douglas, BAe spokesman, told AFP by telephone from London.
“We are long-term partners with HAL,” Douglas said, referring to a March 2004 contract for 66 trainers which BAe won despite stiff competition from France and Russia.
India this month approved a billion-dollar purchase of six transport planes from US-based aviation giant Lockheed Martin and is likely to hand out a two-billion dollar contract for eight naval planes to Seattle-based Boeing.
India’s million-plus military has become a massive arms buyer among emerging nations with the technology-hungry air force alone projecting a need for equipment worth $50 billion in the next 10 years.