New Delhi: India is all set to strengthen its relation with Japan by acquiring the massive ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious aircraft.
With this India would be expanding its bilateral strategic partnership as both the nations are wary of China's assertive behaviour in the Asia-Pacific region.
On Saturday, the defence acquisitions council (DAC), headed by Manohar Parrikar, will take up the proposal to empower the joint working group to negotiate the purchase of at least 12 US-2i aircraft for the Navy for around $1.3 billion.
As reported by Times of India, a defence ministry source said, “It will be like an AON (acceptance of necessity) that the Navy requires 12 US-2i as of now, and the commercial negotiations for them can begin. The Coast Guard, in turn, may require five such planes".
India and Japan has set up JWG that discuss 'cooperation on the US-2 amphibian aircraft' and includes technology transfer and licenced production, since 2013 but a decisive stage seems to have been reached now.
Japan has recently lifted its five decade old arms export embargo. Looking on to the circumstances, the Narendra Modi's government has also asked Japan if it is interested in fielding its Soryu-class submarines for over Rs 50,000 crore project to build six stealth submarines in India.
But Japan with no experience of hawking its military wares, is likely to find it difficult to participate in a competition that will also have Russia, France, Germany and others in the fray. The US-2i project, however, is more of a direct government-to-government deal without such obstacles.
The US-2i is quite a unique aircraft, capable as it is of short take-offs from land as well as water with a range of over 4,500 km. Powered by four big turbo-props, it can land even on rough seas amid three-metre high waves.