US offers top-line weapons to India

US would allow American frontline technologies to be shared with India.

Washington: The US on Friday offered India top of the shelf and top of the line defence weapon systems and said three agreements were being negotiated which would allow the
country to share key American technologies.

"Pentagon is working with India to put three foundational agreements in place with New Delhi that would allow American frontline technologies to be shared with the country," a top Pentagon official Michele Flournoy said.

"The cooperation with India is most developed in the maritime domain. But we are interested in talking about other areas as well. When you look at space, India has a lot to
bring to the table, in terms of its own space technology and industry," she said.

Flournoy said the US is committed to providing India with top of the shelf or top of the line technology.

The Pentagon official said Defence Secretary Robert Gates had made export control reforms a key priority. "We see streamlining and modernising of export control system as a national security priority and one that directly affects our ability to build and sustain these key partnerships".

Flournoy, under secretary of defence for policy said US would continue to work with India on countering the spread of WMD, maritime cooperation and identifying new technologies to combat the threat.

She strongly made a pitch that India should opt for American fighter jets as it would pave the way for "more effective protection of mutual security interest in the future".

Advocating "US solutions for India`s defence needs", the top Pentagon official said an overwhelming majority of arms licenses requested last year had been approved.

She said, India should opt for American fighter jets as it would pave the way for "more effective protection of mutual security interest in the future".

The American pitch for India opting for US system comes as New Delhi is in final stages of deciding on the mega USD 10 billion deal to purchase 126 fighter aircrafts.

American aviation majors Boeing with its F-18 super hornet and Lockheed Martin with its F-16 fighting Falcons are among the major bidders.

The Pentagon official who was speaking at a seminar `Investing in the Future of US-India Defence relations`, at the Washington Chapter of Asia Society said US arms sale to India were showing an upward graph and identified recent purchase by New Delhi of C-130J Hercules Transport Aircraft, just rolled out P-81 Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft and the proposed sale of heavy-lift C-17 Aircraft.

"I am and will continue to be a very strong advocate of US solutions for India`s defence needs. US companies are eager to work with India as the Indian military continues to
modernise," she said.

"Today, two American companies are among the leading competitors for the USD 10 billion sale of 126 advanced fighter aircraft to the Indian Air Force, currently the world`s biggest defence tender. And we are also looking at future defence sales of the C-17, as another example of near-term defence cooperation," Flournoy said.

"I want to underscore though that we in the Department of Defence do not view defence sales as mere commercial transactions.

We understand that India is making a strategic as well as an economic choice when it makes defence acquisitions," she said.

"Obviously the commercial benefits of defence sales to the US economy can`t be denied. But from a DOD perspective, these sales are even more important in building a strategic
partnership that will allow both countries to cooperate more effectively, to protect their mutual security interests in the future," Flournoy said in her speech.

"Whether the scenarios involve humanitarian assistance, counter terrorism cooperation, maritime security activities, having common equipment will allow more seamless cooperation.

India is of course also seeking to build its own indigenous defence industry and is looking for the best technologies to use in the defence sector," she noted.


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