Top defense firms vie to feed Indian arms appetite

BANGALORE, India (AP) — More than 300 weapon makers are participating in a major air show in India in hopes of capturing a share of $10 billion worth of fighter jets and other arms India is planning to buy from overseas.

India needs to replace equipment bought from the Soviets in the 1970s and 80s and is expected to spend $80 billion between 2012 and 2022 to upgrade its military, including 126 fighter jets.

India’s Defense Minister A.K. Antony said the developments in India’s neighborhood — a reference to Pakistan and Afghanistan — posed a security challenge and the government was committed to rapidly modernizing the armed forces.

He inaugurated the five-day air show in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

“We are committed to ensuring rapid modernization of our armed forces and equip them with state-of-the-art systems, equipment and platforms,” the Press Trust of India quoted Antony as saying.

For its air force, India is considering the F-16 Flying Falcon made by U.S.-based Lockheed Martin Corp.; Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet multirole fighter jet; France’s Mirage, manufactured by Dassault Aviation; Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiGs; and SAAB’s Gripen, made in Sweden.

India’s primary fighter aircraft are vintage Russian-made MiGs. About 70 percent of the country’s military hardware is of Soviet origin.


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