India will invite international bids for the purchase of 126 combat aircraft within 2 months in a major push to what is one of the world's biggest military aviation deals, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Monday.
India, which has one of the largest air forces in the world, wants to replace its ageing MiG-21s and British Jaguar planes.
"Now, all negotiations are over. Now it's a question of formality. You can expect it within another 2 months," Antony told reporters when asked how soon India will open the tender to international sellers.
Originally valued by analysts at $10 billion, the deal is now being estimated at between $8 billion and $9 billion after the rupee gained about 9 percent this year.
The deal has attracted interest from the Russians who are pushing their cutting-edge MiG-35. Russia has been India's traditional supplier of military equipment.
Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin's F-16 are also competing for the contract.
India, which has fought three wars with Pakistan and one with China, raised its defence spending by 7 percent to $20 billion for the year ending March 2007.