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Lockheed sees India as top Asia arms market

Lockheed Martin believes that India could be the largest defense market in Asia with $20 bn in possible defence contracts over the next decade.
By HT Correspondent | Reuters, Singapore
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2008 04:30 PM IST

Lockheed Martin believes that India could be the largest defense market in Asia with $20 billion in possible air force, navy and communications contracts over the next decade, an executive said on Tuesday.

"For Lockheed Martin, the potential market in India is probably the largest in Asia Pacific," Richard Kirkland, Lockheed Martin's President South Asia, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow.

Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon's No.1 supplier by sales, announced earlier this month that it would sell six C-130J military transport planes worth about $1 billion to India.

Kirkland said that India had taken an option to buy a further six of those aircraft.

Lockheed is bidding against Boeing Co, and Russian and European rivals, for a potential $10.2 billion deal to sell the Indian air force 126 new multirole fighter aircraft.

Kirkland said Lockheed Martin would compete in India for up to $5 billion worth of naval contracts, mainly for three new vessels and a submarine upgrade programme, and for another $4 billion in communications contracts.

Kirkland said India plans to have dedicated voice and data networks for each of the three armed forces -- army, air force and navy -- as well as a national command network.

He said Lockheed expects steady growth in its business across Asia, where it aims to sell at least 500 of its next generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

"Our steady markets in Asia are Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore, and we see them as potential buyers of the F-35s," Kirkland said.

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