The Indian Navy is considering a $1.65 billion proposal to acquire 12 US-2i aircraft from Japanese company ShinMaywa in 2015, under the ‘Buy and Make (global)’ category of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2013.
“This is being discussed as part of the Services Capital Acquisition Plan (SCAP) for 2015 at a meeting in the ministry of defence,” an Indian official was quoted as saying by Financial Express.
A private Indian partner might be roped in for licence manufacturing in India and the Japanese company will provide all technical support to the Indian partner for re-export of the planes, according to the report.
Tokyo has been pursuing the sale of this aircraft to India as part of stepped-up bilateral defense cooperation for three years now. The deal is now put on a fast track, and in the last few months there have been a lot of exchanges between the Indian Navy and executives of Japanese company ShinMaywa, the report states.
Last year, this deal was also discussed during the visit of PM Narendra Modi to Japan. “Also, both sides are interested in building the aeronautics industry in India,” the official was quoted as saying.
The two sides have been working on several issues including whether Japan will provide only the kit of the plane and India will carry out modification to fit the required sensors for sea surveillance.
A joint working group, a multi-ministerial team, was set up last year to iron out certain details, including important modifications that would allow Japan to export the aircraft to India without violating its self-imposed defense export restrictions.
The Indian Navy might end up with bigger orders for US-2i amphibious planes since the current requirement is for the first batch.
The US-2i is a large Japanese Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) amphibious aircraft, which could significantly boost the Indian Navy’s capability for air-sea rescue. The US-2i has a more than modest range of 4,500 km and India’s aircraft will be stationed in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the Bay of Bengal.