India to begin big arms buy, nations fight for cut

16:02, November 05, 2010      

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U.S. president Barack Obama will begin his India visit on Nov. 5 and the focus of his trip will be an attempt to grab a slice of India's huge budget for military procurement. Some argue that this will start a new contest for India's military procurement market.

According to media reports, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once suggested to India not long ago that the U.S. would help India to return to the world nuclear club and an Indian large civilian nuclear agreement should give priority to the United States. In addition, India should consider increasing the military procurement share to the United States.

U.S. consulting firm KPMG in its newly released report claims that India is expected to spend 112 billion U.S. dollars to buy arms in the next six years.

India's military procurement market has also attracted other countries. French President Nicolas Sarkozy will also visit India in December. French arms manufacturers have expressed the hope that this visit will encourage India to upgrade its "Mirage-2000" fighters, which is expected to cost 2.1 billion U.S. dollars.

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company also said that they intend to sell 197 helicopters valued at 600 million U.S. dollars to India.

In addition, the Russian government has announced that President Dmitry Medvedev will visit New Delhi in late December. According to the Indian media, during Medvedev's visit, Russia and India will likely sign a joint research, development and procurement agreement on fifth generation fighters, which amounts up to 30 billion U.S. dollars.

If the agreement were signed, Russia and India would co-produce 200 to 250 fifth-generation fighters before 2020.

"India Times" reported that the Indian Air Force Chief-of-Staff and the Navy Chief-of-Staff were against the government signing a "Logistics Support Agreement " and " Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum" with the United States because it does not really benefit India. India’s defense minister also said that these agreements would send the wrong signal to the Russian military cooperation partners.

At this point, the media's interpretation of Obama's visit to India is that it is gradually becoming clear the United States not only wants large orders, but also wishes to bring India into the fold as a military ally.

However, the attitude of the Indian military seems to have cast a shadow on Obama's India tour.

By Zhao Chenyan, People's Daily Online


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