US offers top of the shelf weapon systems to India

Washington, DC: The US today offered India top ofthe shelf and top of the line defence weapon systems and said threeagreements were being negotiated which would allow the country to sharekey American technologies.

"Pentagon is working with India to put three foundational agreements inplace with New Delhi that would allow American frontline technologiesto be shared with the country," a top Pentagon official MicheleFlournoy said.

"The cooperation with India is most developed in the maritime domain.But we are interested in talking about other areas as well. When youlook at space, India has a lot to bring to the table, in terms of itsown 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 madeexport control reforms a key priority. "We see streamlining andmodernising of export control system as a national security priorityand one that directly affects our ability to build and sustain thesekey partnerships".

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

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

Advocating "US solutions for India's defence needs", the top Pentagonofficial said an overwhelming majority of arms licenses requested lastyear had been approved.

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

The American pitch for India opting for US system comes as New Delhi isin final stages of deciding on the mega $10 billion deal to purchase126 fighter aircrafts.

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

The Pentagon official who was speaking at a seminar 'Investing in thefuture of US-India defence relations', at the Washington Chapter ofAsia Society said US arms sale to India were showing an upward graphand identified recent purchase by New Delhi of C-130J HerculesTransport Aircraft, just rolled out P-81 Maritime ReconnaissanceAircraft and the proposed sale of heavy-lift C-17 Aircraft.

"I am and will continue to be a very strong advocate of US solutionsfor India's defence needs. US companies are eager to work with India asthe Indian military continues to modernise," she said.

"Today, two American companies are among the leading competitors forthe $10 billion sale of 126 advanced fighter aircraft to the Indian AirForce, currently the world's biggest defence tender. And we are alsolooking at future defence sales of the C-17, as another example ofnear-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 economycan't be denied. But from a department of defence perspective, thesesales are even more important in building a strategic partnership thatwill allow both countries to cooperate more effectively, to protecttheir mutual security interests in the future," Flournoy said in herspeech.

"Whether the scenarios involve humanitarian assistance, counterterrorism cooperation, maritime security activities, having commonequipment will allow more seamless cooperation.

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

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