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Rediff.com  » News » India may sign 500 million-pound defence deal with UK firm

India may sign 500 million-pound defence deal with UK firm

July 25, 2010 17:50 IST

A 500 million-pound deal for BAE systems, Britain's biggest defence contractor, to supply Hawk jet trainers is expected to be among a string of high-profile contracts to be signed during Prime Minister David Cameron's two-day visit to India commencing on Wednesday.

There is also likely to be a major cultural agreement involving museums, The Observer reported on Sunday.

BAE has set up joint ventures with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics in Bengaluru. The Indian group makes BAE's Hawk trainer aircraft under licence. Dick Olver, BAE's chairman, said British business needed to think about India becoming as important a trading partner as America.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, BAE Systems will announce a 500 million-pound deal to build 57 Hawk trainer jets in collaboration with their Indian partners HAL near Bengaluru, as a centrepiece of Cameron's visit.

Cameron, who will first fly to Bengaluru, will visit along with Business Secretary Vince Cable and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker the headquarters of Infosys. Cameron is expected to make a keynote speech there calling for an 'aspirational partnership' between Britain and India.

On Thursday, Cameron will be accorded a ceremonial reception in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi. Besides holding talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, Cameron is scheduled to meet Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Discussions about the growing threat of LeT, the Pakistan-based terrorist group behind the Mumbai attacks in 2008, will be on the agenda of meetings between British Foreign Secretary William Hague and India's security agency chiefs.

The British prime minister wants to secure a special relationship with the emerging superpower. In a letter to the delegation, he argued that the visit is about "laying the foundations of an enhanced relationship" between the two countries for decades to come.

H S Rao in London