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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 05:11 GMT 06:11 UK
India moves for used Mirage jets
India's defence ministry has been authorised by the cabinet to buy 12 used French-built Mirage 2000 jet fighters from Qatar.

It is part of a massive defence purchase package worth more than $700m.

The move comes days after the US announced it was going ahead with sales of its F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, despite opposition from India.

Washington has also offered advanced combat planes to India, an offer that Delhi is considering.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said his ministry was yet to negotiate the price of the Mirage jets.

He said the cabinet had also authorised a number of other military purchases.

Security committee

"Eighty to 87% of life exists in the planes," Mr Mukherjee told journalists, referring to the Qatari Mirage jets.

Authorisation to negotiate the sale was given by the cabinet committee on security (CCS) in the capital Delhi on Tuesday.

Mr Mukherjee said the CCS has also cleared the acquisition of 11 Dornier 228 aircraft at a cost of more than $150m to strengthen maritime surveillance.

Plans also include the purchase of nine offshore patrol vessels for the India navy and upgrades for Sea Harrier planes.

The committee also decided that 20 additional battalions of the armed forces should be formed to monitor the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan border.


Earlier this week Mr Mukherjee welcomed the offer of advanced jets from the United States, the first time that such an offer has been made.

Washington is reported to have offered Delhi F-16s as well as the more advanced F-18 Hornet combat jets.

India has been looking to upgrade its military hardware which for years has depended on Russian-built products.

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