India clears $700 million defence purchase

NEW DELHI: India s defence ministry cleared Wednesday proposals worth nearly $700 million to buy military equipment but deferred a key multi-billion dollar decision on replacing the country s ageing air transport fleet.
India, the world s largest buyer of weapons, is in the midst of revamping its ageing military equipment and recently lifted a cap on foreign investment in defence.
The country has been keen to move ahead with defence orders amid a string of new border skirmishes with arch-rival Pakistan in the disputed Kashmir region and an increasingly assertive China.
The deals included the purchase of four helicopters for survey vessels and upgrading the nation s electronic warfare system, a defence ministry spokesman told reporters.
“The defence acquisition council has also cleared a proposal relating to purchase of a platform system for transporting military equipment,” he said.
The proposals cleared were worth 44.4-billion rupees ($696 million), the ministry official added.
The defence council, which approves big military procurements, deferred a decision on a joint bid by European giant Airbus Defence and Space and India s Tata Advanced Systems Ltd to supply the Airbus C295 medium transport aircraft.
The C295s are meant to replace the Indian Air Force s fleet of 56 Avro aircraft valued at $3 billion.