India, US finalising $5.8 bn Boeing aircraft deal

India, US finalising $5.8 bn Boeing aircraft deal

New Delhi: India is aiming to finalise a $5.8 billion defence agreement with the United States before the November visit of president Barack Obama in a deal that would mark the biggest India-US defense deal ever.

The two countries are in talks for India to acquire 10 Boeing Co’s C-17 Globemaster III planes, senior government officials said on Wednesday, adding the parties hope to make the announcement during Obama’s visit.

“The $5.8 billion deal along with all potential support services and spares is the biggest-ever defence deal between the two countries till now," a senior government official told Reuters.

Another official said the actual announcement could be made during president Obama’s visit.

India and the US are building a strategic alliance and security experts say New Delhi’s growing ties with Washington are seen as a counterweight against China’s growing military clout.

India and the United States signed a landmark civilian nuclear deal in 2008 and another pact in July last year, facilitating the entry of US companies like Lockheed and Boeing into India’s lucrative defence market.

New Delhi expressed its interest in January to buy the heavy-lift C-17 Globemaster aircraft, capable of carrying large combat equipment and troops.

“India will receive the most advanced version of the C-17 available, which will include the latest upgrades and capability," said Vivek Lall, Boeing’s vice president (Defence Space and Security) India, confirming the deal.

Boeing has sold 221 C-17 Globemaster planes to several countries so far, including Qatar, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, the company said.

India is looking to spend more than $50 billion over the next five years to modernise its armed forces and largely Soviet-era equipment, an effort that is in particular focus after the 2008 Mumbai attacks revealed security loopholes and the need to upgrade defences.

It is also expected to finalise a deal to buy 126 fighter jets.