New Delhi: The long-pending deal for 12 amphibious military aircraft is unlikely to be signed during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe later this month because the planes are not on the Indian Navy’s priority list with the force facing a budget crunch.
“There is no doubt that the Japanese amphibious aircraft is a good product that the Indian Navy wants. But there is a priority list based on the budget constraints and, currently, the aircraft is not high on the priority list,” a Navy source told ThePrint.
The Japanese prime minister will be in India for a 3-day visit between 15 and 17 December.
The aircraft can be used for search and rescue, surveillance as well as intelligence gathering.
When told that the Japanese government is looking at a re-worked financial deal for the aircraft, the source said the Navy is yet to hear anything officially on the matter.
“If there is a new proposal, we can always look at it,” the source added.
India-Japan defence ties
US 2 amphibious aircraft, manufactured by Japanese firm ShinMaywa, has been under discussion between India and Japan for long. The project has been in the works since 2011 but got a renewed push following PM Modi’s visit to Japan in 2014.
It was in 2014 that the Abe government decided to lift the ban on exporting Japanese arms to the world.
The Japanese firm has even offered to manufacture the planes in India and jointly offer them to global clients.
Japan had also entered the fray for the Indian Navy’s Project 75 India, a priority project of the force under which six conventional submarines are to be built with Air Independent Propulsion System that will allow them to stay under water for long.
However, they have now withdrawn from the proposed project.
Following the India-Japan Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue in 2017, a joint statement said they will encourage equipment collaboration, including in defence and dual-use technologies.
Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh in a very candid statement on 3 December had mentioned that the force was facing a budget crunch. Sources said the Navy has made a priority list and the submarine protect, besides their plans to upgrade their helicopter fleet, tops the agenda.