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US offers advanced fighter aircraft to India
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | March 03, 2006 09:02 IST
The United States has offered to sell India advanced fighter aircraft as the next step in the rapidly growing defence cooperation between the two countries.
"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," the Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday, as the two countries clinched a deal on civilian nuclear cooperation in Delhi.
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"We have indicated our intention to offer both the F-16 and the F-18, both combat proven aircraft," it said, adding, "As additional capabilities enter our force, we will work with the government of India to make them available. Our proposal will also address India's interest in technology transfer and indigenous co-production."
"It is our goal to help meet India's needs in the defence realm, and to provide important capabilities and technologies that India seeks. We are on a path to accomplish this. Where only a few years ago, no one will have talked about the prospects for a major US-India defence deal. Today, the prospects are promising, whether in the realm of combat aircraft, helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft, or naval vessels," it said.
The Pentagon further maintained that the next step will be to turn the talk of prospective sales into reality and that Washington is committed to working with India on this issue.
"We are aware of past Indian concerns about reliability of supply. One of the key elements of the close partnership we have developed with India is a clearer understanding of converging strategic interests, and mutual respect of each other's priorities," it said.
"We are committed to addressing this priority of India. The United States intends to be a reliable partner. It is in the US interest to do so. The Defence Department has said pointing out that the Multi Role Combat Aircraft competition is a prime opportunity to demonstrate the advances and transformation of the bilateral defence cooperation," it added.
"The United States and India seek to build the architecture of a durable defense partnership. Everything we have accomplished, including the New Framework for the Defence Relationship signed by Secretary Rumsfeld and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee last June, is geared toward accomplishing this goal," the Pentagon added.