NEW DELHI (AP) — Lockheed Martin Corp. has received an order from India for six Super Hercules C-130J military transport planes in a deal
worth about US$1 billion (euro680 million), a company executive said Monday.
''The letter of intent was signed in January,'' Dow Jones Newswires quoted Orville Prins, a Lockheed Martin vice president in charge of India, as saying. The aircraft will be delivered in phases starting in 2011, Prins said.
A senior Indian air force official confirmed the deal, but refused to give details.
India — whose relations with the U.S. remained tense during the Cold War — currently has no American-made combat aircraft. Its air force flies Russian-made MiG fighters, British Jaguars and French Mirages.
In 2004, it placed a US$1.5 billion (euro1 billion) order with Britain's BAE Systems for advanced jet trainers.
The Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp. is participating in India's fifth International Land and Naval Systems Exhibition, DefExpo2008, currently being held in the Indian capital.
On Monday, Prins also said that Lockheed Martin is in talks with Indian companies to form production joint ventures in the country. But he didn't elaborate.
Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co. are bidding against Russian and European rivals for a deal to sell 126 multi-role fighter aircraft worth US$10 billion (euro6.81 billion) to the Indian air force.
India's defense spending has steadily risen in recent years — despite relative peace with arch rival Pakistan — as the country tries to modernize its outdated hardware.
The Indian government raised the defense budget by 12 percent to 960 billion rupees (US$21 billion; euro14.31 billion) in fiscal 2007-2008 to support the military's modernization.