Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bangalore: Aviation companies from around the world have flocked to the India air show, hoping for a piece of the billions of dollars in defense contracts the fast-growing South Asian country plans to spend in modernizing its military.India's defense minister told the gathering on Wednesday that India will soon invite bids from combat aircraft makers for up to $10 billion worth of fighter jets."It is in the final stages," Defense Minister A.K. Anthony said Wednesday, without giving a specific timeframe. He was speaking to reporters at the air show in the southern technology hub of Bangalore.The deal for 126 fighter jets the country's air force plans to buy is estimated to be worth between $6.5 billion and $10 billion.India -- whose economy will likely grow 9.2 percent for the fiscal year that ends March 2007, according to government estimates -- also is considering buying nearly 200 army reconnaissance and observation helicopters, Anthony said.The five-day event at the Yelahanka air base has drawn 500 companies, including 275 foreign companies, more than ever before, Defense Production Secretary K.P. Singh told reporters.Forty-five foreign delegations and 28 air force chiefs are also attending the biennial show, which comes as India is emerging as one of the biggest buyers of military hardware in the global market.
07/02/07 RAJESH MAHAPATRA/Business Week


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