Washington: The US is open to Indian
participation in its Joint Strike Fighter programme that would
finally lead to its purchase of fifth generation F-35
Lightning II stealth fighter, a top Pentagon official said
"There is nothing on our side, no principle which bars
that on our side, Indian participation in the Joint Strike
Fighter. Right now, they`re focused on these aircraft which
are top-of-the-line fourth-gen fighters," Under Secretary of
Defence for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ashton
Headed to India in the coming weeks, Carter said the
decision to pursue the F-35 is to be taken by India only.
Carter was delivering a key-note address on
"US-India Defense Relations" at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, on the occasion of the release of a
report on India`s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA)
At a cost of about USD 10 billion for 126 aircraft,
the MMRCA competition is the largest Indian fighter tender in
Eight countries and six companies eagerly await the
outcome of the selection process, which has garnered
high-profile attention for its sheer size, its international
political implications, and its impact on the viability of key
Carter argued that US-built F-16 and F/A-18 as being
the most technologically advanced aircraft in the competition.
"I think that, without saying anything disparaging
about the other entrants, both F/A-18 and the F-16 offers
include the best technology," he said.
Authored by Ashley Tellis, the report says that in
choosing an aircraft, the government of India must employ a
speedy decision process that is focused on the right metrics,
taking both technical and political considerations into
Tellis in his over 140 page report notes that the
European aircraft are technically superb, but the US entrants
prove to be formidable "best buys".
If Washington wants an American aircraft to win the
game, however, it will need to offer generous terms on the
transfer of technology, assure India access to
fifth-generation US combat aircraft, and provide strong
support for India`s strategic ambitions to counter the
perception that the older US designs in the MMRCA race are
less combat effective, the report notes.
"Given the technical and political considerations, New
Delhi should conclude the MMRCA competition expeditiously,
avoid splitting the purchase between competitors, and buy the
best aircraft to help India to effectively prepare for
possible conflict in Southern Asia," the report said.
"Because of the dramatic transformations in combat
aviation technology currently underway, the Indian government
should select the least expensive, mature, combat-proven
fourth-generation fighter for the IAF as a bridge toward
procuring more advanced stealth aircraft in the future," it
"In making its decision, India`s government must keep
the IAF’s interests consistently front and center to ensure
that its ultimate choice of aircraft is the best one for the
service. This will not only help India to strengthen its
combat capabilities in the coming years but position it as a
rising global power worthy of respect far into the future,"
the report said.