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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 07:42 GMT
Global arms makers in India pitch
F-16 jet fighter aircraft
India is in the market for 126 fighter jets
Some of the world's leading weapons manufacturers are showcasing their products in India at a special defence exhibition in the capital, Delhi.

More than 300 companies from the UK, France, Germany, Israel, Russia and the US are taking part.

Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who opened the four-day event, urged global arms companies to enter joint production with India.

India is one of the world's leading buyers of conventional arms.

In 2004 it bought $5.7bn worth of weapons, ahead of its Asian economic rival, China.

Leading international companies Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Rolls Royce and Dassault are participating in the Delhi Defence Exposition.

India is also looking to strike deals between the global manufacturers and its domestic defence industry.

"Our defence production units have taken to a market-friendly approach and offer an opportunity to bring in global technologies for joint production and export to third countries," Defence Minister Mukherjee Pranab Mukherjee is quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

Major buys

Delhi is expected to spend more than $8bn in defence purchases over the next few years, and is in the market for fighter jets and missile production systems.

India is looking to buy more than 100 advanced combat aircraft to replace its ageing, Russian-built fleet.

Apart from the US, aircraft from France, Russia and Sweden are being considered.

India's long-time rival Pakistan has in the past raised its fears over Delhi's increased defence spending, saying it is leading to an arms race in South Asia.

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