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March 13, 2009

Singapore firm bids for key India arms contract
A state-linked Singapore firm is bidding for a key contract worth one billion Singapore dollars ($650 million) to supply mobile artillery to the Indian military, a newspaper said Thursday.

The Straits Times quoted an unnamed Indian official as saying the South Asian giant's army was happy with an ultra-lightweight cannon from defence and engineering firm Singapore Technologies Kinetics (ST Kinetics). "We like the artillery," the Indian official said.

ST Kinetics, the land systems and speciality vehicles arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering, confirmed it had made a bid for the contract.

"We are participating in the tender which is currently at the evaluation stage," a company spokeswoman said. "

As it is still under evaluation and we are bound by customer confidentiality agreements, we are unable to comment further." The report said the Indian army evaluated the Singapore-made Pegasus ultra-lightweight cannon -- said to be the first self-propelled, helicopter-portable weapon of its kind and capable of firing three rounds in 24 seconds.

The contract is for 145 cannons, it said. India, which has long had uneasy relations with fellow nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan, is looking to modernise its military hardware, in the past sourced mainly from the former Soviet Union.

The Indian military has said it cannot cut defence spending even during the current financial crisis and plans to hand out contracts worth 30 billion US dollars in the next three to four years.

The defence budget accounts for 2.5 percent of GDP and India has imported military hardware worth $28 billion since 2000. ST Engineering is listed on the Singapore exchange and reported a turnover of S$5.34 billion ($3.47 billion) in 2008. It is one of the companies under state investment agency Temasek Holdings.

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