India plans to increase its defence budget by Rs130 billion ($2.98 billion) as it struggles to pay for desperately needed new equipment and for operations in the disputed Kashmir region. India and Pakistan fought a short conflict in Kashmir last year.

The 28.9% increase over the 1999 defence budget takes Indian military funding to Rs585.87 billion. The army will receive the lion's share of the money while the air force will receive a budget of Rs78.96 billion.

Additional money for the air force is seen as a positive sign for the Advanced Jet Trainer programme, in which BAE Systems and Dassault are offering the Hawk and Alpha Jet, respectively, for the 60-aircraft order.

According to Indian newspaper the Deccan Herald, the air force is also keen to order more Dassault Mirage 2000s, while the army wants unmanned air vehicles for intelligence gathering and surveillance duties in the disputed border regions of Kashmir.

Source: Flight International