| GEO World|
| India’s defence imports to reach $30 bn by 2010|
| Updated at: 1713 PST, Sunday, February 08, 2009|
NEW DELHI: Global armament and aerospace firms are flocking to India which is offering rich pickings in military contracts worth tens of billions of dollars despite an economic slowdown.
The hardware-hungry military says it cannot cut defence spending despite the slowdown in India which is suffering the knock-on effects of the global financial crisis.
"Yes, there's the economic turmoil but India's defence programmes will continue as before," Defence Production Secretary Pradeep Kumar said.
"There's no scaling down of the modernisation of the armed forces," he said, announcing 303 international firms will hawk their wares at a February 11-15 air show to be held in Bangalore, hub of India's aerospace industry.
India, the biggest weapons buyer among emerging countries, has imported military hardware worth 28 billion dollars since 2000.
It has earmarked another 30 billion dollars to be spent by 2010 that includes 12 billion dollars on 126 fighter jets for which six global aeronautical giants are in the running.
Nuclear-armed India says it is "fast-tracking" all defence procurement negotiations amid heightened tensions with Pakistan following the massacre last November of 165 people in Mumbai by 10 gunmen"
Leading the pack of international companies at the show will be Germany and France with 31 companies each. Twenty-six British, 24 Russian and 22 US firms will also be at the show along with 289 Indian defence firms, organisers said.