The Indian navy's plans to buy eight long-range maritime reconnaissance planes from Boeing or EADS for $2 billion (Dh7.3 billion) are at an "advanced stage," a report said on Thursday.
"The Indian navy plans to replace eight old (Soviet-era) TU-142 planes with an equal number of state-of-art aircraft," Indian navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta told the latest edition of military news magazine Force.
"The case has been progressed strictly in accordance with the current defence procurement policy and presently it is at an advanced stage," he told the magazine.
"The intention is to have the first aircraft delivered in mid-2012 and all the eight aircraft by mid-2015."
Indian defence ministry officials separately told AFP on Thursday that Boeing's P-8i "outperformed" its closest rival A-319 patrol aircraft from the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, or EADS.
Highly-placed government sources said clearance to buy the planes from Boeing was likely "during or around" an official trip to India by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates later this month.
If awarded to Boeing, the contract would be India's biggest military aircraft deal with the US in five decades.
India is also set to award a one-billion dollar contract for six Hercules transport planes to US-based Lockheed Martin, which is also in the race for a $10-billion (Dh36.5-billion) contract to sell 126 fighter jets to the Indian air force.
Ties with India's main arms supplier Russia, which accounts for 70 per cent of the country's military inventory, now face rough weather over delays by Moscow over the refurbishing of a vintage aircraft carrier for the Indian navy and other deals.
Analysts say India, the largest buyer of arms among emerging nations, is likely to spend $50 billion (Dh182.5 billion) between now and 2018 to modernise its 1.23-million-strong military, the world's fourth largest. (AFP)
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