India may finally agree to buy the Japanese ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious aircraft in a deal worth $1.30 billion for the Navy during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during September 13-14.
The deal, it seems, got finalised during a meeting between former Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera during September 5-6 in Tokyo, sources told BusinessLine.
According to sources, Jaitley’s meeting with Onodera had been “fruitful” in the backdrop of Japan sweetening the deal by offering 10-15 per cent discount on each of the plan that cost over $100 million.
India plans to buy 12 of this search-and-rescue (SAR) maritime surveillance aircraft which the Indian Navy plans to deploy strategically at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with the objective of carrying out patrols in the larger Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
However, the deal has been stuck for over seven years now due to the high cost of the planes. According to the agreed plan, the Ministry of Defence will be buying 12 planes off the shelf. Subsequently, at a later stage the government will be procuring 18 more that will be built in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme.
“Building the plane here will be next phase of the deal. As of now the focus is on procuring the 12 planes in fly-away condition.
“This is because having a platform is an absolute necessity for the Navy. And there are few suppliers for this kind of an aircraft. This will be a great asset in protecting our interest in the IOR,” said an official, involved in the deal.