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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
India agrees price for UK jets
Hawk jet trainers in RAF livery
Negotiations over the Hawk took more than a decade

The Indian Government says it has agreed a price for the purchase of 66 Hawk trainer jets from the British-based aviation company, BAE Systems.


Prime Minister Tony Blair helped push the Hawk deal through during a recent visit

The matter will now go to the country's cabinet for final approval.

There had been suggestions that India was considering buying a less costly Czech-built plane rather than the Hawk.

Negotiations over the possible British sale of Hawk jets to India have been going on for over a decade.

They had been bogged down by the issue of price.

Controversial deal

Now it seems a deal believed to be worth more than $1.5 billion may be in the offing.

MiG-21 fighter
Indian fighters have met many accidents

Speaking to the BBC, a defence ministry official here confirmed remarks by the defence minister that a price negotiating committee had now completed its work.

He said the matter would soon go before a cabinet committee for final approval.

If the sale goes ahead, it is likely to create jobs both in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, and at British Aerospace plants at Brough and Warton in northern England.

The deal is, however, likely to be highly controversial within the UK.

High-profile push

Official British policy is not to sell arms to countries that might use them against their neighbours.

Hawk jet trainer
The deal will need Indian cabinet approval

Several members of parliament have said sales to both India and Pakistan should be suspended given the heightened tension between them.

But Delhi badly needs new jet fighter and trainer aircraft to reduce the high rate of flying accidents in its air force.

There had been reports that it would opt for a Czech-built plane, considerably cheaper than the Hawk.

It is thought here that the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, helped push the Hawk deal through during a recent visit to India.

See also:

08 Jun 02 | South Asia
28 May 02 | Politics
07 Feb 02 | South Asia
09 Aug 01 | Business
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