A military helicopter Johannes Simon, Getty Images

India Clears Nearly $5 Billion in Defense Purchases

With new government in power, India seeks to revamp its aging military equipment, boost local manufacturing and end the country's status as the world's largest arms importer.

NEW DELHI — India's defense ministry has cleared the purchase of military equipment worth $4.74 billion, including four long-range patrol aircraft from U.S. aerospace giant Boeing, an official said Wednesday.

The Defense Acquisition Council, which approves big-ticket purchases, also approved an order for 428 air defense artillery guns during a meeting late Tuesday, the official said.

"The council has cleared proposals relating mainly to purchase of air defense guns and long-range patrol aircraft for the navy," the official said on condition of anonymity.

India lifted a cap on foreign investment in defense last year as the government seeks to revamp its aging military equipment.

The right-wing BJP party that came to power last year also wants to boost local manufacturing and end the country's status as the world's largest arms importer.

Military purchases had stalled under the previous Congress government, slowing down much-needed investment in the high-profile sector.

The order for four new planes from Boeing follows an earlier deal to buy eight P-8I aircraft from the company in 2009. India has already received seven P-8Is with the eighth expected later this year.

The United States displaced traditional ally Russia as India's top supplier of armaments in 2013, and Washington and New Delhi renewed their 10-year Defense Framework Agreement during President Barack Obama's visit in January.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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