Friday, October 2, 2009

Indian Air Force Unveils Upgrade Plan

India's air force on October 1 announced plans to buy scores of new trainer jets for a new generation of pilots as the rapidly developing country boosts its military capability.

Air Force chief P.V. Naik said India would buy up to 80 planes from abroad in a deal thought to be worth $5.5 billion, while a similar number would be made by domestic manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautical. India in 2004 purchased 66 Hawk trainer jets worth $1.45 billion and Naik said negotiations were on with British defense equipment firm BAE Systems for additional purchases.

India's air force, the fourth largest in the world, has ambitious expansion plans and is currently conducting trials before buying 126 new fighter jets for $12 billion. "We are modernizing in a very big way," Naik told reporters. "We are looking for a meaner and leaner air force." The United States in March approved the sale to New Delhi of eight Boeing anti-submarine aircraft worth $2.1 billion, the largest ever sale of U.S. arms to India.

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