A ‘disappointed’ US to keep up defence ties with India

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Though disappointed at India’s rejection of Washington’s bid to supply a new generation of fighter jets, the United States has said it would continue to grow and develop its defence partnership with India. The New York Times described the decision as a “blow” for President Barack Obama.

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“We are deeply disappointed by this news but we look forward to continuing to grow and develop our defence partnership with India,” Pentagon spokesperson Col Dave Lapan said Thursday after New Delhi informed US of its decision..

The US, he said, “remain convinced that the United States offers our defence partners around the globe the world’s most advanced and reliable technology.”

India earlier informed manufacturers of US Lockheed Martin F 16 IN and Boeing F/A 18 In that they have not made it in the technical evaluation trials for a Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) for the Indian Air Force.

In a report from New Delhi, The New York Times described India’s decision as “a blow for President (Barack) Obama, who had pushed hard for this and other defence deals during his visit to India in November as part of his agenda to deepen and broaden the United States’ relationship with India.”

“While political and economic relations between India and the United States have been warming for years, American arms makers have struggled to win big contracts” in New Delhi, it said..

“After decades of frosty relations during the cold war, which pushed India to rely extensively on the Soviet Union for military hardware, many in the Indian defence establishment are still wary of American intentions and United States military aid to Pakistan, India’s main adversary,” Times said.

In Washington, Ashley Tellis, a Carnegie Endowment scholar who authored a 140-page report titled “Dogfight” on the India’s MRCA decision, said: “There is an acute sense of disappointment in the US government about this decision.”

“As best I can tell, the downselect was made entirely on the basis of the technical evaluations – the cost of the aircraft or the strategic considerations did not enter into the picture,” he said.

In his report, Tellis had argued “having an American airplane in the IAF livery would simply be transformative for bilateral defence relations and it would send an important signal about the changing geopolitical dynamics in South Asia.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])