Pentagon pitches for $10 billion Indian fighter jet deal

Washington, DC: The Pentagon is making a strong pitch
for US companies for the $10 billion deal for 126 fighter aircraft for
the Indian Air Force and future sales of the C-17 transport aircraft.
The US defence department, also known as Pentagon because of the
shape of its building, does not view defence equipment sales as mere
commercial transactions and looks at them as a growth area for the
India-US partnership, a senior defence official said Thursday.

“I
am and will continue to be a strong advocate of US solutions for
India’s defence needs,” Michele Flournoy, under-secretary of defence
for policy, told members of the Asia Society. “US companies are eager
to work with India as the Indian military continues to modernise.”
Noting
two American companies, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are among six
competitors for India’s biggest fighter-jet purchase in 15 years, she
said, “We are also looking at future sales of the C-17 aircraft as
another example of near term defence sales.”
“We understand that
India is making a strategic as well as an economic choice when it makes
defence acquisitions,” she said. “Obviously, the commercial benefits of
defence sales to the US economy can’t be denied.”
“But from a
[defence department] perspective, these sales are even more important
in building a strategic partnership that will allow both our countries
to cooperate more effectively to protect our mutual security interests
in the future,” Flournoy said.
“Whether the scenario involves
humanitarian assistance, counterterrorism cooperation or maritime
security activities,” she continued, “having common equipment will
allow more seamless cooperation.”
India is seeking to build its
own indigenous defence industry, and is looking for the best
technologies to use in its defence sector, Flournoy said.
The
United States is committed to providing India with top-of-the-line
technology, and has backed up its commitment by approving the
overwhelming majority of licenses requested last year, she said.
Flournoy
noted defence secretary Robert M Gates has made export control reform a
key priority, citing the streamlining and modernising of the US export
control system as a national security priority that affects the
nation’s ability to build and sustain key partnerships.
India and
the United States will explore ways to counter the spread of weapons of
mass destruction through maritime cooperation, dialogue, and
identifying new technologies to combat this threat, Flournoy said.
“We
will look at ways in which, together, we can better secure the global
commons by expanding our already robust cooperation in air, space,
cyberspace and maritime initiatives.”