Washington: Pentagon is making a strong pitch
that India opt for American fighters, as India`s USD 10
billion deal to acquire 126 multi role Jet Aircraft is close
to be finalised.
"I am a strong advocate of US solutions for India`s
defence needs", a top Pentagon official Michele Flournoy said
stressing that "US companies were eager to work with India as
Indian military continues to modernise".
Noting that two American companies, Boeing and Lockheed
Martin were in the race for the deal-- which is currently the
world`s biggest defence contract, Flournoy who is under
secretary for defence for policy said, American companies were
keen to work with India.
Boeing is bidding with its F-18 super hornet while
Lockheed Martin has put into the fray its upgraded F-16
Indian Air Force has already carried out trial
evaluations of the six contenders in the deal and is expected
to short list competitors shortly. Besides, the American
companies, European Arms Consortium EADS, French Rafale,
Swedish Gripen and Russian MIG-35 are in the hunt.
Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin recently bagged multi
billion contracts for sale of C-130 J transport aircraft and
P-81 Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft to India. Boeing is also
bidding to sale its heavy lift C-17 transporters.
"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," the Pentagon official said.