`US, Indian defence militaries getting closer`

US` Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer remains upbeat on defence ties.

Updated: Apr 29, 2011, 17:38 PM IST

New Delhi: Despite setbacks for US firms Lockheed-Martin and Boeing that were on Wednesday eased out of India`s shortlist for a USD 10.4 billion deal for 126 fighter jets, the country`s ambassador here Timothy J Roemer remains upbeat on defence ties.

"On defence, one simply has to look at the growth in defence sales to see how close our two armed forces are becoming," Roemer told a meeting with AmCham here, a day after he said he was quitting as ambassador to India from June.

"But do not take my word for it," the ambassador said and quoted from an interview given recently to a news agency by Boeing`s Christopher M Chadwick, before the Indian government said their F-18 medium multi-role combat aircraft was no longer in the fray.

"Our hands are pretty full. There`s lots going on," Chadwick, the president of Boeing Military Aircraft, had said in the interview.

Roemer touched upon the delivery of the first of the six C130-J planes in February and many more since then and said they demonstrate the best of American manufacturing, technology, and workmanship, delivered on time and within budget.

"We are expecting similar success with the sale of C17 aircraft. Once this over four billion dollar sale is finalised, the economic impact will be felt by 30,000 American workers and 650 American suppliers located in 44 states," he said.

Roemer said the near-two-years he has spent in India has been an extraordinarily successful and rewarding time that also saw some major accomplishments in US-India strategic relationship.

"Before the rumours begin to fly, let me say unequivocally: I am not departing to run for President! When I accepted the position, I told President (Barack) Obama I would agree to stay for two years but after that my commitment to my family would take precedence."

Going forward, the ambassador saw three important global trends that will set the tone and pace of the US-India global partnership:

  • A shift in the geopolitical space with emphasis moving away from the Atlantic to the Pacific where India was set to become the third largest economy after US and China.
  • A large Indian population moving out of poverty and the predicted growth of its middle class from an estimated 160 million people to 300 million or even 500 million.
  • Challenges posed by transnational actions in areas such as clean energy, technology and even social media that played a role in over-throwing a 30-year government in Egypt.

    "We are entering a golden age in our relations that will result in us creating economic opportunities for our citizens, educating the leaders of tomorrow and ensuring safe and secure communities throughout the world."