US hopes India will pick either F-16 or F/A-18 combat aircraft

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 20:48

New Delhi: The United States on Wednesday hoped
India will pick one of the two American aircraft in the
multi-billion dollar combat aircraft deal, saying it will be
an "important indicator" of where the strategic relations
between the two sides go in future.



"Hopefully the next step will be as India evaluates in
the Medium-Multi Role Combat aircraft deal... that they will
decide to pick one of the US aircraft the F-16 Super Viper
(Lockheed Martin) or the F/A-18 (Boeing)," US Ambassador to
India Timothy J Roemer said.



"This becomes the very logical next step in the
relationship. This will be a very important indicator of where
this relationship goes in the 21st century," the US Ambassador
said while addressing a conference here on `America and
Asia-Perspectives on Peace, Security and Development`.
Russian MiG-35, French Dassault Rafale, European
Eurofighter Typhoon and Swedish Gripen are in the fray for the
USD 11 billion deal.



The Ambassador said as India goes to down select the
companies in the race in the next couple of months, "We look
at the finalisation of the civil nuclear agreement and the
issuing of the A-10 licenses and India signing the Convention
on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC)".



Asked if the ties between the two sides would suffer
if India selects any other aircraft, Roemer said, "Across the
board, US is elevating, raising India to a global partner. The
M-MRCA seems to be a logical next step in building this
strategic partnership on the defence side."
"We are optimistic and want to build strategic ties
with India and M-MRCA is going to be a very vigorous
competition. But we are confident and hopeful," he added.



The US Ambassador said "I am an optimist about what
President Barack Obama announced when he was here and
announced support for India for permanent UN Security Council
membership, took India off the entities designations."



Claiming that the recently-delivered C-130J Super
Hercules was "under budget", Roemer said, "In the defence
world today, that`s a very important factor for tight
budgets."



PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 20:48

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