United States to sell advanced warplanes to India
Washington, Mar 3: Hours after President George Bush announced the landmark civilian nuclear cooperation pact with India, the United States (US) said it is prepared to sell its advanced warplanes and other high-tech arms to the country.
In a statement yesterday, the Pentagon said, "The United States is committed to providing state-of-the art fighter aircraft in response to India's requirements for a multi-role combat aircraft. We have indicated our intention to offer both F-16 and F-18 both combat proven aircraft. As additional capabilities enter our force, we will work with them to make it available."
It said, "Our proposal will also address India's interest in technology transfer and indigenous co-production."
It said, "We are aware of past Indian concerns about reliability of supply. One of the key elements of the close partnership we have developed with the country is a clearer understanding of converging strategic interests and mutual respect of each other's priorities. We are committed to addressing this priority. It is in the US interest to do so. The Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition is a prime opportunity to demonstrate the advances and transformation of the India-US relationship in the area of defence trade in general and reliability, in particular," the statement added.
"As defence trade and technology cooperation are vital components of our defence relationship, these will also serve as key objectives of our strategic partnership such as building ties among our defence establishments and industries and to develop interoperability among our armed forces," it said.
"Defence technology cooperation will contribute to strengthen military capabilities and well as economic benefits through expanded trade. It is our goal to help meet India's needs in the defense realm, and to provide important capabilities and technologies that the country seeks. We are on a path to accomplish this. Only a few years ago, no one would have talked about the prospects for a major India-US defence deal, today the prospects are promising, whether in the realm of combat aircraft, helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft or naval vessels," it added.
The Defense department in a statement released to coincide with the President's visit said, "Our next step is to turn the talk of prospective sales into reality. The US is committed to working with India to do this." Even though the statement did not mention any specific deals, it is generally believed that the US was prepared to offer Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing F/A-18 jet fighters to India.
"It is our goal to help meet India's needs in the defence realm to provide important capabilities and technologies that the country seeks. We are on a path to accomplish this," the statement said.
"We have indicated our intention to offer the F-16 and the F-18--both combat proven aircraft. As additional capabilities enter our force, we will work with the Government of India to make them available," it added.
"The two countries seek to build the architecture of a durable defence partnership. Everything we have accomplished, including the New Framework for the Defence Relationship signed by US Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee last June, is geared towards accomplishing the goal," the statement said.