India to buy Boeing Apache and Chinook helicopters

A Boeing Apache helicopter. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The chopper deal will be a boost to defence ties between India and the United States.

India's cabinet has approved a $2.5bn (£1.7bn) deal to buy 37 military helicopters from the US aviation company Boeing.

The news comes ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US later this week.

India will buy 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinooks to replace ageing Soviet-era aircraft.

The purchase strengthens the status of the US as one of India's top military suppliers.

The Indian Air Force picked the Apache and Chinook helicopters over Russian competitors in 2012, but budget constraints had held back the deal until now.

The cabinet committee on security, headed by Mr Modi, gave the green light for the deal on Tuesday.

The US and Indian governments are now negotiating a series of defence collaboration projects, according to the Reuters news agency.

Mr Modi will meet US President Barack Obama on the fringes of the UN General Assembly in New York.

"This visit seeks to build on the substantial ground covered during my last visit to USA and President Obama's visit to India early this year," he said, according to Press Trust India.

While in the US, Mr Modi will also visit Facebook headquarters for talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook has more than a million monthly active users in India.

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