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India eyes first US military aircraft
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India eyes first US military aircraft 

India has sought information on buying what would be its first U.S. military aircraft, six Lockheed Martin C-130J ‘‘Super Hercules’’ cargo planes, U.S. Air Force officials and others said Friday.
A request for details of a possible purchase from the Indian defense ministry was delivered to the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, which forwarded it to the Air Force’s office of international affairs, said Dewey Mitchell, an Air Force spokesman.
‘‘Consideration begins upon receipt of the request,’’ he said in a written reply to queries from Reuters.
Two other people familiar with the matter said India had asked about buying six C-130Js in a letter received by U.S. officials Thursday.
The four-engine turboprop C-130, built by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp., is the U.S. Air Force’s workhorse cargo and personnel transport aircraft. The "J’’ is its latest model.
Lockheed Martin referred queries about the matter to U.S. officials. The State Department had no immediate comment.
The Indian request for information about a C-130J sale came days after a trade mission to India by the Aerospace Industries Association, which represents top U.S. defense contractors among others.
The C-130J, used by the U.S. Air Force in Iraq, is capable of short takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways. The price per aircraft may top $70 million, depending on configuration.

The possible sale is subject to U.S. congressional approval. It would be the first Indian purchase of U.S. military aircraft. U.S. President George W. Bush has sought to develop closer operational ties with India’s armed forces, partly as a hedge against China. The Bush administration already has offered India a choice of two U.S. fighter aircraft -- Lockheed’s F-16 and Boeing Co.’s _ F-18 SuperHornet -- as entrants in a multi-role fighter aircraft competition New Delhi is organizing.      

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