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US offers top of the shelf weapon systems to India

Washington, DC: The US today offered India top of
the shelf and top of the line defence weapon systems and said three
agreements were being negotiated which would allow the country to share
key American technologies.

“Pentagon is working with India to put three foundational agreements in
place with New Delhi that would allow American frontline technologies
to be shared with the country,” a top Pentagon official Michele
Flournoy said.

“The cooperation with India is most developed in the maritime domain.
But we are interested in talking about other areas as well. When you
look at space, India has a lot to bring to the table, in terms of its
own space technology and industry,” she said.

Flournoy said the US is committed to providing India with top of the shelf or top of the line technology.

The Pentagon official said defence secretary Robert Gates had made
export control reforms a key priority. “We see streamlining and
modernising of export control system as a national security priority
and one that directly affects our ability to build and sustain these
key partnerships”.

Flournoy, under secretary of defence for policy said US would continue
to work with India on countering the spread of WMD, maritime
cooperation and identifying new technologies to combat the threat.

She strongly made a pitch that India should opt for American fighter
jets as it would pave the way for “more effective protection of mutual
security interest in the future”.

Advocating “US solutions for India’s defence needs”, the top Pentagon
official said an overwhelming majority of arms licenses requested last
year had been approved.

She said, India should opt for American fighter jets as it would pave
the way for “more effective protection of mutual security interest in
the future”.

The American pitch for India opting for US system comes as New Delhi is
in final stages of deciding on the mega $10 billion deal to purchase
126 fighter aircrafts.

American aviation majors Boeing with its F-18 super hornet and Lockheed
Martin with its F-16 fighting Falcons are among the major bidders.

The Pentagon official who was speaking at a seminar ‘Investing in the
future of US-India defence relations’, at the Washington Chapter of
Asia Society said US arms sale to India were showing an upward graph
and identified recent purchase by New Delhi of C-130J Hercules
Transport Aircraft, just rolled out P-81 Maritime Reconnaissance
Aircraft and the proposed sale of heavy-lift C-17 Aircraft.

“I am and will continue to be a very strong advocate of US solutions
for India’s defence needs. US companies are eager to work with India as
the Indian military continues to modernise,” she said.

“Today, two American companies are among the leading competitors for
the $10 billion sale of 126 advanced fighter aircraft to the Indian Air
Force, currently the world’s biggest defence tender. And we are also
looking at future defence sales of the C-17, as another example of
near-term defence cooperation,” Flournoy said.

“I want to underscore though that we in the department of defence do not view defence sales as mere commercial transactions.

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 department of defence perspective, these
sales are even more important in building a strategic partnership that
will allow both countries to cooperate more effectively, to protect
their mutual security interests in the future,” Flournoy said in her
speech.

“Whether the scenarios involve humanitarian assistance, counter
terrorism cooperation, maritime security activities, having common
equipment will allow more seamless cooperation.

India is of course also seeking to build its own indigenous defence
industry and is looking for the best technologies to use in the defence
sector,” she noted.