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Japan offers to set up plant in India for US-2 aircraft

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Japan's ShinMaywa Industries, the manufacturer of US-2 amphibious aircraft that India is eyeing, is betting big on the 'Make in India' initiative and has offered to set up a plant here to cater to international demands.

The move comes as the Navy plans to procure six such aircraft, under a government-to-government deal, between 2017 and 2022. Six are proposed to be bought in the next phase.

"The deal when inked will have a 30 per cent offset clause. Under this offset clause, ShinMaywa wants to set up a plant in India to cater to the global market since the demand for the aircraft is high," defence sources said.

The project has been in the works since 2011 but got a renewed push following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Japan in 2014 and a return trip by Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to New Delhi last December.

Sources said the deal could be a "government-to-government" exercise with the initial purchase being off-the-shelf.

"It is not simple to start manufacturing here. There has to be the necessary infrastructure and expertise," sources said.

If the deal goes through, it would be the first major export of Japanese defence item after it lifted decades-long self-imposed embargo on export of weapons.

The aircraft, which can land on choppy waters and have long-range civilian and military applications, are being sought by the Navy to monitor India's vast coastline, islands and for use in disaster relief.

Sources said that for the Indian Navy, the next priority project is the P-75 India, under which it plans to build six conventional submarines.

Also on priority are six nuclear-powered submarines for which the Cabinet Committee on Security had given the go ahead last February.

"P75I and nuclear submarines are the main focus right now besides the development of next indigenous aircraft carrier," sources said.

Amphibian aircraft can take off and land on both land and water. Seven of these aircraft are operated as Search and Rescue Amphibians by Japanese military.

Including its predecessor US-1, the amphibians have been dispatched over 900 times to rescue victims of maritime accidents.

A ShinMaywa representative said it has not tied up with any Indian firm for the project but has been in talks with several of them since 2011.

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