India clears US$4.74 billion defence purchase

An Indian Navy Boeing P-8I Poseidon aircraft (centre) flies in formation with Indian Navy MiG-29K fighters during a flypast for the country's Republic Day Parade in New Delhi, on January 26, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's defence ministry has cleared the purchase of military equipment worth US$4.74 billion (S$6.4 billion), including four long-range patrol aircraft from US aerospace giant Boeing, an official said Wednesday.

The Defence Acquisition Council, which approves big-ticket purchases, also approved an order for 428 air defence artillery guns during a meeting late Tuesday, the official said.

"The council has cleared proposals relating mainly to purchase of air defence guns and long-range patrol aircraft for the navy," the official said on condition of anonymity.

India last year lifted a cap on foreign investment in defence as the government seeks to revamp its ageing military equipment.

The right-wing government that came to power last year also wants to boost local manufacturing and end the country's status as the world's largest arms importer.

Military purchases had stalled under the previous Congress government, slowing down much-needed investment in the high-profile sector.

The order for four new planes from Boeing follows an earlier deal to buy eight P-8I aircraft from the company in 2009. India has already received seven P-8Is with the eighth expected later this year.

The United States displaced traditional ally Russia as India's top supplier of armaments in 2013 and Washington and New Delhi renewed their 10-year Defence Framework Agreement during President Barack Obama's visit in January.

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