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|July 9, 1998||
US ceases military exchanges with India
No armed forces or defence-related exchanges are anticipated with the United States in the foreseeable future, the Lok Sabha was informed today.
Defence Minister George Fernandes told P Shiv Shankar that consequent upon underground nuclear explosions by India on May 11 and 13, the spokesman of the US department of defence announced the cessation of all military exchanges with India.
Fernandes told Shiv Shankar that the government had approved in May 1998, the conduct of joint military exercises with the US army in three phases. The first phase of the exercise was to be held in Hawaii in July/August 1998. The second and third phases of the exercise were to be held in India in October/November, 1998.
In another written answer, Fernandes admitted that the US sanctions would have a small impact on the schedule of the prestigious Light Combat Aircraft project and it was being overcome by the concentrated efforts of a national team.
Thus, the sanctions would not affect the main battle tank Arjun and the LCA programme, the minister said.
The LCA is expected to be ready for its first flight in the second quarter of 1999. The first indigenous LCA has already rolled out and is undergoing detailed ground qualification testing to ensure safety of flight.
Fernandes also said the LCA project activities were being closely monitored at a ''very high level'' so that the development schedule was adhered to and the LCA was inducted into the Indian Air Force by the year 2003.
Two additional prototypes of LCA, in addition to technology demonstrators, were under build-up during the current phase itself to accelerate flight testing and evaluation so that the LCA's induction into the IAF takes place in the year 2003.
This is besides the national team constituted to combat the recently imposed sanctions.
He also told R Sambasiva Rao that the US had terminated military sales to India. Export licences for commercial sale of items under US munitions list had been revoked.
Besides, the military-to-military programmes including certain educational programmes and official exchange visits had been suspended.
He also said certain components, sub-assemblies and test equipment required for on-going defence research and development programmes may be denied by the US government. Efforts were being made to identify alternate sources.
Action had already been initiated to undertake indigenous development of a number of such critical items.
No dates for Fernandes's visit to the United States have been finalised, the Lok Sabha was informed today.
Dr T Subbarami Reddy and Chandulal Ajmeera were told that the defence minister received an invitation in early May 1998 from the US secretary of defence to visit the United States at a mutually convenient time.
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