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US says Indian resolution on tech transfer in warplane production will take time

india Updated: Sep 10, 2016 11:50 IST
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US army soldiers look at a F-16 fighter jet during an official ceremony in Balad, Iraq, in July 2015. Pentagon recently backed a proposal by manufacturing companies to produce fighter jets under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.(Reuters)

India is not likely to come to a resolution in ‘transfer of technology’ in production of F16 and other fighter jets “for at least a year and a half”, a top Pentagon official said on Friday, days after the American defence body backed proposals to have fighter jets made in India.

“Obviously technology transfer is something that India is really really hoping for -- looking for how much we’re able to work through -- will probably be a key determinant,” US air force secretary, Deborah Lee James, told reporters on Friday.

“Then a key determinant in what India ultimately ends up doing will relate to the Make in India part, how many jobs, what sorts of technologies might transfer,” James said. “The Indian government is not likely to come to a resolution on this for at least a year, a year and a half perhaps, that’s my impression,” she said.

Hindustan Times had reported that the Pentagon had backed proposals from US aviation giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin to manufacture top-line fighter aircraft as part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.Government sources said the two sides also discussed sharing of sensitive data related to top-end defence technology, and possible transfer of high-altitude long-duration drones for maritime surveillance.

James, who recently returned from India said, the country is thinking about manufacturing not just F-16s and F-18s.

“They’re also considering the Grippons and a variety of other aircraft.”

James, however, said her discussions with respect to the F-16 and F-18 did not get into the actual details of what the industry proposed. “My discussions related to the importance of interoperability, joint training, how we have and of course, many countries around the world have extensive experience with both the F-16, the F-18,” she said.

She also clarified that the fighter jet proposals were not government proposals but had come directly from the industry. “They are not FMS (Foreign Military Sales),” she said.

In her discussion, the US Air Force Secretary said, she further discussed about modernisation programs, and India’s strong interest in co-production and co-development technology transfer.