Foreign Companies Jostle for India’s Arms Business

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Feb. 3 – The global economic crisis doesn’t seem to have dented the Indian arms business. With a budget of well over US$30 billion for importing weapon systems and platforms over the next four-five years, global arms manufacturers are jostling for space of the Indian arms pie. The Indian government on their part is also interested in offers as they plan to increase and upgrade their weapons systems post heightened tensions with Pakistan and the use of some obsolete weapons by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

"Yes, there is the economic turmoil. But India's defense programs will continue as before. There is no scaling down of the modernization of armed forces, nor any fund constraints,'' defense production secretary Pradeep Kumar told the Times of India.

Arms companies from Germany, France, Russia, the U.S., Italy, Belgium, Israel and Australia have all expressed their interest in India’s arms and aerospace buildup.

The announcement comes amidst reports of Pakistan having more operational missiles than India. India tends to manufacture and test her own missiles which take significant time. Pakistan on the other hand is known to acquire missiles from China and North Korea. India’s Prithvi missile is currently the only operational missile. Agni I, II and III are all undergoing tests to be perfected.

The Indian Air Force has a US$10-14 billion budget to acquire 126 new multi-role combat aircrafts this year. The ministry of defense is also looking at buying 700 helicopters half of which will be acquired from foreign companies over the next 10 years, 197 light utility helicopters and 22 attack helicopters. The navy and coast guard are also interested in purchasing specialty helicopters and coastal surveillance capabilities mostly from Russian and Israeli companies.