US OKs $2.1 bln Boeing arms sale to India
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has cleared a $2.1 billion sale to India of eight Boeing Co P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, the largest U.S. arms transfer to India to date.
The State Department said in a March 12 notice to the U.S. Congress that it would license the direct commercial sale after having factored in "political, military, economic, human rights and arms control considerations."
The Indian navy was the first international customer for the P-8, a long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. India selected it over several rivals, including EADS Airbus A319, according to Flightglobal.com, an online aviation trade publication.
Boeing has said it would deliver the first P-8I within 48 months of a contract signing, and the remaining seven by 2015. Derived from Boeing's commercial 737 airframe, its is similar to the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy.
In January 2008, Washington and New Delhi sealed India's previous largest U.S. arms purchase -- six Lockheed Martin Corp C-130J military transport planes valued at about $1 billion, including related gear, training and spares.
Boeing's P-8I contract is with the Indian Ministry of Defense. The sale includes associated support equipment, spares, training and logistical support through June 2019, the State Department notice said..
The notice said direct arms-trade "offsets" were expected to include engineering service, manufacturing and integrated logistics-support projects totaling $641.3 million.
(Reporting by Jim Wolf; editing by Bernard Orr)