India, Japan close to plane contract
Updated: 2013-05-28 07:13
Japan is close to signing an agreement to supply amphibious planes to India, a report said on Monday, in what would be its first sale of military hardware since a 1967 weapons export ban.
During Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's four-day visit to Tokyo, which started on Monday, the two countries are set to firm up plans for Delhi to purchase the US-2, a domestically developed aircraft used by Japan's armed forces.
The sale, reported by the Nikkei business daily, would be the first of a finished product made by Japan's defense industry since its self-imposed 1967 ban on arms exports.
Experts say the aircraft must be classed as for civilian use if it is to comply with the rules, which are part of the country's post-World War II anti-militarist drive.
The US-2, which was developed by ShinMaywa Industries and has been sold to the Japanese navy at a price of roughly 10 billion yen ($99 million), has a range of 4,700 kilometers and can land in seas with waves of up to three meters.
"If the US-2 is exported to India for civilian use, that would be the first case of exports of Japanese-developed weaponry used by the defense ministry for civilian use," said a Japanese trade ministry official in charge of arms sales.
ShinMaywa opened a sales office in New Delhi last year and has been promoting the plane there, a spokesman for the company said.
"We hear there is some demand from the Indian government but we decline to comment further as we have yet to reach a contract," he added. The Nikkei said India is looking to acquire at least 15 of the aircraft.
Japan has sought to expand the market for its defense industry. It has previously exported technology or parts of military hardware but not finished products.
In 2011 Tokyo eased the ban on arms exports, paving the way for Japanese firms to take part in multinational weapons projects.