BAE inks deal with HAL for 57 jet trainers

London-based BAE Systems Plc, Europe's biggest defence contractor, will supply 57 Hawk T Mk2 advanced jet trainers to India's air force and navy, Indian defence ministry officials confirmed today, in a contract potentially worth $775 million.

BAE will supply 40 trainer jets to the air force and the remainder to the navy.

The contract between BAE Systems and state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will be signed on Wednesday in the southern city of Bangalore, where British prime minister David Cameron is currently visiting. "The deal is a sign of closer defence ties between the two countries," a defence ministry official said.

Cameron, who is on his first visit to India since taking office in May, leads a delegation including six ministers and more than 30 senior executives from top UK firms, to show that Britain is serious about boosting economic exchanges with India.

The contract for 57 Hawk trainers is a follow-on deal after India bought 24 such jet trainers from BAE Systems in 2008. India says it needs at least 180 training jets over the next few years.

India's air force officials said the advanced jet trainers, fitted with engines made by Rolls-Royce Group Plc, will help Indian pilots fly new generation fighter jets. (See: Rolls-Royce, HAL finalise £200 million contract for Hawk AJT engines )