Latest MRCA Update-----MRCA Jet Deal Could Be Split: Ex-NSA told US

Although US firms lost out on India's mega fighter deal, former national security adviser M K Narayanan had told US diplomats that the $10 billion buy could be split into two contracts and that he would ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to keep both price and quality in mind.

The US aircraft were finally knocked on technical grounds, but higher pricing of fighters like the F-18 series put them at a disadvantage with regard to European rivals and discussion on the deal came up before Singh's Washington visit in 2009. According to WikiLeaks, a US cable from New Delhi spoke of undersecretary Bill Burns meeting with Narayanan to preview the visit during which Narayanan expressed personal interest in "counterterrorism deliverables" and suggested the Indian government may ultimately split the tender.

Narayanan also assured Burns of progress on civil nuclear cooperation ahead of the visit, including the imminent public announcement of reactor park sites for US firms and requested lifting of restrictions on high technology trade and expanded space cooperation.

In an indication of the clout he enjoyed in the PMO, Narayanan offered his personal assistance in brokering inter-ministerial approval of the counterterrorism deliverable, the proposed Law Enforcement and Security Cooperation Initiative.

In the one-on-one meeting, Narayanan suggested that the fighter tender may be split between two recipients, and that he would recommend that PM Singh take into consideration "both price and quality".

India had no "confrontation" with the US on outer space, and nothing stood in the way of further cooperation and this could fill the void left by the completion of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement. 

The Times OF India


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