India Is Now Major Market for U.S. Defence Products

  
The United States has finally decided to treat India, the world’s
largest democracy, as an equal when it comes to defense trade. In a
continuation of its efforts to forge closer ties with the subcontinent,
the Obama Administration has ended the misguided efforts of both
Democratic and Republican administrations to punish India for its
decision to acquire a nuclear weapon. This decision recognizes the
reality that such weapons in the hands of democratic states poses no
threat to the United States.
It also is an acknowledgement of India’s growing importance to a stable international system.
India will now be invited to participate in all
the major international arms and technology control groups. The
administration’s decision also will end sanctions against prominent
Indian science and technology entities such as the Indian Space Research
Organization, and the Defense Research and Development Organization
will now allow U.S. corporations and laboratories to collaborate with
them.

It is a fact little known in this country that Indian
universities conduct world-class collaborative efforts with U.S. defense
research organizations such as the Naval Research Laboratory.

This step took place against a background of increasing U.S. competition
for arms sales to India. Once exclusively an acquirer of European and
Russian military technology, India is now a potential major market for
U.S. defense goods. Recently, India agreed to purchase 10 C-17 jet
transports for more than $4 billion and eight P-8 Poseidon ASW aircraft
for $2.1 billion. Currently, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are both
entrants in the $10 billion competition to provide India with 126 Medium
Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. The U.S. competitors against aircraft from
Europe and Russia are the F-16IN Super Viper and the F/A-18E/F Super
Hornet.

In a potentially significant move, Under Secretary of Defense Ashton
Carter declared this week that the United States would be open to India
participating in the F-35 program. Which would be better for New Delhi:
taking the chance that Russia’s decrepit aerospace industry will be able
to design and build a passable fifth-generation fighter or acquiring
the second fifth-generation fighter from a country that has nearly
twenty years experience building stealth aircraft?

There are a number of other areas where U.S.
defense systems could make inroads into the Indian market. As a rising
naval power, India may be interested in acquiring a variant of the
Littoral Combat Ship. Facing serious terrorist and insurgent threats in
various parts of the country, the Indian Army could benefit from
acquiring U.S. systems such as the Stryker wheeled combat vehicle or the
M-ATV.