NEW DELHI: The US government has approved the sale of naval guns worth US$1 billion to India in the biggest defense deal between the two countries in four years.
Putting the US among the top three global arms suppliers to India, the State Department notified the Congress on Nov 19 of the possible foreign military sale of as many as 13 naval guns made by the Minneapolis-based BAE Systems Land and Armaments.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had made a request to buy the MK 45 naval guns and 3,500 D349 ammunition from the US government, a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notice said.
The MK-45 Gun System allows India’s navy to conduct antisurface warfare and anti-air defense missions, while enhancing interoperability with US and other allied forces.
The proposed sale will not alter the basic military balance in the region – instead it will support the foreign policy and national security of the US by improving the security of a strategic regional partner, the notice said.
The proposed sale will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats from enemy weapon systems.
India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and strengthen its homeland defense.
The purchase is part of Modi’s plan to spend $250 billion by 2025 to modernise the armed forces to help meet the twin challenge from neighbours and rivals Pakistan and China.
India has fought three major wars with Pakistan and one with China over territorial disputes along its western and northern borders.
Since 2007, the US has notched up defense deals worth US$17 billion with India, competing with traditional arms suppliers Russia and Israel to complete the top three slots.
In the 12 years, the US has sold the Boeing Co. C-17 Globemaster long-range transport aircraft, Lockheed Martin C-130 Super Hercules special cargo aircraft, M777 ultra-light howitzers, Apache gunship and Chinook cargo helicopters and more to India, which is listed by SIPRI as the second largest arms importer globally in 2018.