U.S., India to sign $8 bln defence deals: envoy

NEW DELHI Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:44pm IST

Soldiers are silhouetted against the setting sun as they salute facing the national flag in New Delhi January 24, 2012. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma

Soldiers are silhouetted against the setting sun as they salute facing the national flag in New Delhi January 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Parivartan Sharma

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - U.S. companies are poised to sign defence deals totalling $8 billion with India, U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell said on Friday at her first public speech since arriving in New Delhi this month.

Powell did not specify which companies she was talking about or when the deals would be signed, but embassy officials said she was referring to negotiations that include about a dozen Apache helicopters along with engines for Indian jets.

"We are poised to sign an additional $8 billion in direct commercial and foreign military sales," Powell said. "As we share more common equipment, our bilateral defence ties will become stronger."

India is the world's largest arms importer and plans to spend close to about $100 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its largely Soviet-era equipment.

U.S. companies including Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co are some of the contractors looking to grab a share of India's planned military spending.

Industrial conglomerate Honeywell International Inc. is offering engines for the Indian Airforce's Jaguar fighter aircraft.

Powell said improving bilateral trade and investment was her main objective as ambassador, mentioning U.S. concerns about tariff and non-tariff barriers and a new retroactive tax law as obstacles in the relationship.

(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel and Manoj Kumar; editing by Malini Menon)

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