India has recently elected a new prime minister, and to the U.S. and other Western powers, that means billion dollar business. Newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made his intentions of upgrading India’s Soviet-era military well known. Senior politicians from the U.S., France and Great Britain will arrive in India in the following weeks to try to woo the new PM to contract their country for the job. The most convincing representatives will bring billions upon billions back to their countries.
Harsh Pant, professor of international relations at King’s College explained, as reported by Reuters, “All the countries are trying to make their case, especially as there is the sense that the Indian market will undergo a shift. They get a sense from their dealings that something dramatic is going to happen, and they want first-mover advantage.”
The French will apparently get the first shot at the money bag; French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will try to close a stalled deal. The French want to sell 126 Rafale fighter jets, built by Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA), to India for an estimated $15 billion. According to the Times of India, both sides are very close to signing a deal, with most parts of the negotiations finished.
Sen. John McCain recently spoke to the senate, saying, “This is an area where U.S. defense capabilities, technologies, and cooperation—especially between our defense industries—can benefit India enormously.” Arizona, the state he represents, is home to Boeing (BA.N) and Raytheon (RTN.N) defense businesses. The senator hopes to bring billions back to his constituency.
Currently the U.S. is still persistently pushing a $2.8 billion deal for Boeing’s Apache attack helicopters and Chinook military transport helicopters that had been delayed until after India’s election. The first order of 22 AH-64D Apaches for $1.4 billion was approved all the way back in December 2010, but it has been successfully stalled since that time.
India imported $6 billion worth of military equipment last year. As of now India is unable to produce anything inside the country except ballistic missiles. Though the government has just approved policies making defense construction easier, the country must look outside of the region for defense equipment in the meantime. One day they hope that they will be able to provide for themselves.