90 Miles From Tyranny : Exclusive: India Readying $2.6 Billion U.S. Naval Helicopter Deal Ahead Of Trump Trip

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Exclusive: India Readying $2.6 Billion U.S. Naval Helicopter Deal Ahead Of Trump Trip

FILE PHOTO: A man holds the flags of India and the U.S. while people take part in the 35th India Day Parade in New York August 16, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo






NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is set to give final approval to a $2.6 billion deal for military helicopters from U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin ahead of a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump this month, defense and industry sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is trying to pull out all the stops for Trump’s trip in a bid to reaffirm strategic ties between the two countries, which have been buffeted by sharp differences over trade, to counter China.

India’s defense purchases from the United States have reached $17 billion since 2007 as it has pivoted away from traditional supplier Russia, looking to modernize its military and narrow the gap with China.

Modi’s cabinet committee on security is expected to clear the purchase of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Indian navy in the next two weeks, a defense official and an industry source briefed on the matter separately told Reuters.

“It’s a government-to-government deal, it is close,” said the industry source.

To cut short lengthy negotiations between Lockheed and the Indian government, the helicopters that will be deployed on India’s warships will be bought through the U.S. foreign military sales route, under which the two governments will agree details of the deal.

Trump will visit India Feb. 24-25, the White House said on Monday, his first official trip to the country.

Both countries are separately working on a limited trade agreement ahead of the trip, after earlier imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s imports.

Trump has called India the “tariff king of the world” but the Modi government has been trying to address some of his concerns.

Trade officials have pointed to large-scale U.S. arms purchases, from surveillance planes to Apache and Chinook helicopters, as proof of India’s willingness to tighten strategic ties.

On Monday, the U.S. State Department said it had approved an Indian request for an Integrated Air Defense Weapon System for an estimated cost of $1.87 billion, which would further...



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