US set to bag $5bn defence deals US set to bag $5bn defence deals | idrw.org Having already bagged Indian defence contracts worth over $8 billion in recent years after muscling out Russia, Israel and France, the US is now headed towards clinching another four major deals worth almost $5 billion. Defence ministry sources on Thursday said the deals for six more C-130J â€ Super Herculesâ€ aircraft ($1.2 billion), 22 Apache attack helicopters ($1.4 billion), 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers ($885 million) and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters (around $1 billion) â€œare in the final stagesâ€ now. India will convey this to US deputy secretary of defence Ashton B Carter when he arrives here next week. Carter, who will hold talks with defence minister A K Antony, national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and defence secretary R K Mathur, is the Obamaadministrationâ€™s â€œpoint manâ€ for expanding defence trade with India as a cornerstone of the bilateral strategic ties. â€œThe deals should be inked within this financial year (2013-2014) despite budgetary constraints. The C-130J deal, for instance, is likely to go to the Cabinet Committee on Security in October-November,â€ said a source. The aircraft and howitzer deals will be direct government-to-government contracts under the US foreign military sales (FMS) programme, which does not involve competition through global tenders. The attack and heavy-lift helicopter deals, however, were won by aviation major Boeing after its AH-64D Apache Longbow and twin-rotor Chinook helicopters outclassed Russian Mi-28 Havoc and Mi-26 choppers in field trials and commercial evaluation. But there are â€œsome loose endsâ€ in the deals that need to be tied up first. The defence ministry, for instance, has told Boeing that it should drop its insistence on â€œlimited liability clausesâ€ being included in the agreements. Similarly, the M-777 contract has been hanging fire since January 2010 due to field evaluation reports being â€œleakedâ€ and certain other irregularities involving a top Indian Army officer. â€œThere is an inquiry in progress but it should not be a major hurdle,â€ said another source. Cost escalation is another big factor. Due to the long delay, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency last month hiked the cost of the M-777 deal from the earlier $ 647 million to $885 million for the 155mm/39-calibre howitzers. Incidentally, the four deals are also in tune with the governmentâ€™s recent approval to the Rs 90,000 crore plan to raise a new mountain strike corps along with two â€œindependentâ€ infantry brigades and two â€œindependentâ€ armoured brigades (totalling over 80,000 soldiers) over the next seven years to plug operational gaps against China. While the first six C-130J aircraft acquired by IAF are based at the Hindon airbase, the six new â€œSuper Herculesâ€ will be housed at Panagarh in West Bengal. Panagarh will serve as the headquarters for the new Army mountain corps. Similarly, the air-mobile M-777 howitzers, with an almost 30-km range, can be swiftly deployed in high-altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh by helicopters and aircraft to counter China.