The US and India are in the final stages of signing an $8 billion defense deal that would make India a key market for the US foreign military sales, US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell said at her first public speech in New Delhi on Friday, Reuters reported.

Powell did not elaborate on the deal or the companies involved. A Reuters report quoting embassy officials said that the deal included the purchase of Apache helicopters and engines for Indian jets.

We are poised to sign an additional $8 billion in direct commercial and foreign military sales, Powell said according to the Reuters report.

 As we share more common equipment, our bilateral defense ties will become stronger.  India will be able to assume a larger leadership role in the region and effectively respond to security concerns and humanitarian relief operations,'' she added.  

Powell said that the US and Indian bilateral relations have steadily grown in the past years. With the C-17 and C-130J sale, we have more than doubled our total foreign military sales and posted sales making India the third largest FMS market for 2011, she said according to a Times of India report.

However, Powell raised concerns about the tariff and non-tariff barriers and tax laws, stating that Obama administration was keen on reforms to streamline the trade.

This new approach will help US exporters to be more competitive and reliable suppliers of innovative technologies. We in turn expect India to sign up to and adhere to appropriate international regimes,'' the Times of India report quoted her as saying.

India is one of the largest importers of arms in the world and is the third largest market for US foreign military sales. India has spent heavily on the upgrade of its Soviet era aircrafts and defense equipment. 

India is planning to spend nearly $100 billion over the next 10 years on defense purchases. American companies, Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co, Honeywell International Inc, are looking to grab a share of India's planned military spending, the Reuters report said.