Singapore: US aerospace and defence contractor Lockheed Martin is pushing for the sale of its Aegis missile defence system to India saying it was open to installing Indian-built components in the system should the country opt for it.
"Because of the way the Aegis combat system is constructed, there is the ability to put specific indigenous capabilities in portions of it," Ric Rushton, director for sea-based missile defence at the firm, told news agencies at the IMDEX Asia 2009 maritime defence show being held at Singapore.
Lockheed's high-tech Aegis system is designed to track and shoot down incoming missiles.
According to Rushton, the Aegis system was built on the principle of "open architecture", which allowed countries using the system to install indigenous components. He cited the example of Japan and South Korea whose naval destroyers are equipped with the system.
"A similar model could work in India if that's what they are interested in," Rushton informed agencies. He also said India was yet to arrive at a decision.
"It's their timeline. I think they are looking to make a decision sometime this year," he said.
"I'm very optimistic about it. I think there is a solid operational requirement on the part of the Indian Navy, they need this kind of capability."
The world's largest defence contractor has also been keenly pushing its Patriot PAC-3 missile defence system to India for some time, but has failed to elicit any tangible response.
The Indian defence establishment finally signed a mega $1.4 billion 13-year missile defence contract with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael for the supply of anti-aircraft missiles to India in March this year.
Under the terms of the contract, IAI and the Indian Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO) will develop and deploy some 2000 Barak-8 anti-aircraft missiles. The contract effectively sealed the fate of the Patriot PAC-3 offer.
The Barak family of missiles has evolved from being a sea-launched anti-missile system, designed to shoot down anti-shipping missiles into a versatile, anti-aircraft and anti-missile system.
It is claimed that it easily matches, or even surpasses, the Aegis system in effectiveness.