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India warplane offer soon: Boeing

Washington has said it is prepared to offer Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing F/A-18 jet fighters to India.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2006 11:01 IST

Boeing expects to make India an offer for 126 warplanes soon and will be competing against half a dozen other defence firms from the United States and Europe, an executive said on Friday.

"We are hopeful to see a request for proposals this summer. Around half a dozen companies will respond to it. We will respond to it," Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing's arms business, told a briefing on the sidelines of a security conference in Singapore.

The United States said in March it was prepared to sell advanced warplanes and other high-tech arms to India after it agreed a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation pact.

Washington has said it is prepared to offer Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing F/A-18 jet fighters to India.

The US companies are likely to come up against competition from the Eurofighter consortium, which includes BAe Systems, Airbus parent EADS and Italy's Finmeccanica.

French plane maker Dassault's Rafale fighter and the Gripen, built by Saab and BAE Systems, may also enter bids.

Albaugh said he had held talks with South Korea, which has funding for another 20 F-15 jets, but there had been no agreement yet.

US and European defence companies are set to benefit from increasing weapons spending in Asia as China's military build-up spurs neighbours to buy more arms, analysts said.

Boeing estimates the Asian defence market to be worth around $5 billion a year. Its Integrated Defense Systems division had sales of around $32 billion in 2005, $2 billion of which were generated outside its home market.

Albaugh expects the share of its foreign sales to rise to 10 per cent of turnover by 2011, from around 7 per cent now.