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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
India signs 'historic' US arms deal
Raytheon's Firefinder
Firefinder radar will allow India to track missiles
India has signed its first arms deal with the US in more than four decades, agreeing to buy eight Raytheon radar systems.

The Pentagon said the "historic" move further signalled "improving relations between India and the US", underlining improving bilateral ties since the 11 September attacks.

Security co-operation between the world's greatest democracy and world's most populous democracy is a natural

Dave DesRoches
US Defence Department
India, which has fought three border wars with Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947, and one with China in 1962, has traditionally bought Russian and British military equipment.

"We have no one here who can recall our ever having sold a major weapons system to India in the foreign military sales system," said Dave DesRoches, a spokesman for the US Defence Security Co-operation Agency which handles government-to-government weapons deals.

The US earlier this year lifted restrictions on military sales to India and Pakistan, imposed after their tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998.

Return fire power

The sale of eight AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder counter-battery artillery radars could be worth $146m if all options are exercised, the agency said in February.

The radar systems pinpoint mortars, artillery and rocket launchers at a range of up to 300 kilometres after tracking a shell for only a few seconds.

It then relays information for retaliatory barrages according to the supplier, Thales Raytheon Systems, a joint venture of Raytheon and Thales of France.

Military balance

India unveiled a massive increase in its defence budget earlier this year.

It wants to modernise the country's armed forces with more new technology and hopes to buy a range of new weapons, including an airborne surveillance system, fighter planes, submarines and a second aircraft carrier.

The Pentagon said the sale would not affect the military balance with Pakistan, which deploys the AN/TPQ-36, an earlier version of the Firefinder radar.

"This sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security interests of the US by helping to improve the security of a country that has been and continues to be a force for political stability and economic progress in South Asia," the Department of Defence announcement said.

The agreement would also enhance US-Indian "military inter-operability" and lead to closer relationship between defence labs in the two countries

See also:

08 Feb 02 | South Asia
India and Russia arms deal stalled
05 Dec 01 | South Asia
India and US boost military ties
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