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India may revive Rs 10,000-cr US-2i Japanese aircraft deal

While basically meant for search and rescue operations, the US-2i can also rapidly transport 30 combat-ready soldiers to "hot zones" in an emergency

India is likely to revive the stalled project to acquire a dozen Japanese US-2i amphibious aircraft, worth around Rs 10,000 crore, days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tokyo on November 11-12 to further cement the bilateral strategic partnership.

The focus of the meeting between Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will be the signing of a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

The US-2i project, with six of the huge amphibious planes each for the Navy and Coast Guard, is slated to be taken up by the defence acquisitions council (DAC) meeting to be chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday. Powered by four big turbo-props, the US-2i is capable of short take-offs from land as well as water. While basically meant for search and rescue operations, the US-2i can also rapidly transport 30 combat-ready soldiers to “hot zones” in an emergency.

Negotiations for the US-2i aircraft deal, which will be the first-ever purchase of military equipment from Japan since it ended its five-decade old self-imposed embargo to export military hardware, have been underway since 2013 but were stalled on the high costs involved.

Japan has now agreed to somewhat reduce the price, which was earlier pegged at Rs 10,720 crore ($1.6 billion) for the 12 aircraft, to clinch the deal and expand its strategic partnership with India.

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