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US respects India’s military modernisation

The offer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to India is an example that US holds India's military modernisation in high regard, a top Pentagon official has said.

world Updated: Nov 04, 2011 02:41 IST

The offer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to India is an example that US holds India's military modernisation in high regard, a top Pentagon official has said.

"What's clear is that the F-35 is something that we would be more than willing to talk to the government of India about should they request to find out more information about purchasing," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, Robert Scher said.

"We have made no assertions or promises, and we have not received any request for this," he said.

"But certainly it's an example of the high regard that we hold India's military modernisation, what we think they can usefully potentially use and looking at technology exchange, that we could be able to proceed on," he said.

The Pentagon in a report on Tuesday had informed the US Congress that it was willing to offer the world's most advanced flying machine F-35 to India if it expressed interest in this regard.

Though it is for India to decide on its military modernisation program, but the US is ready to offer the best of its technology to it, Scher said.

"That's obviously for the government of India to decide and we look forward to be able to offer some of our best technology, some of our best equipment to fulfill their needs," he said.

"Certainly, we believe that the two entries for the MRCA competition were the best air planes available, the most proven technology to deal with India's express needs. We certainly would have liked for them to have continued to be in the competition. That was not the decision and we certainly respect that," Scher said.

In a nine-page report to the Congress on Tuesday, the Pentagon acknowledged that India's recent decision not to opt for America's F-16 and F-18 fighters while buying 126 war planes was a setback.

"Despite this setback, we believe US aircraft, such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), to be the best in the world. Should India indicate interest in the JSF, the US would be prepared to provide information on the JSF and its requirements (infrastructure, security etc) to support India's future planning," the Pentagon informed the US Congress.

Continually looking for ways to expand defense cooperation with India, the Pentagon said it is seeking opportunities for increased science and technology cooperation that may lead to co-development opportunities with India as a partner.

"The United States has taken many steps in recent years to facilitate science and technology and research and development cooperation with India. In so doing, we have signaled our unambiguous intent to pursue cooperative opportunities on increasingly sophisticated systems," Pentagon said.

"As our relationship continues to mature, we expect co-development of armaments to become a reality," it said.

Scher said it is for India to decide how F-35 fits into its military modernisation program.

"It's not my job to figure out how it fits to the government of India's approach. What we're simply saying is that if it does fit into their approach, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with them," he said.

"We will continue to provide examples of our best technology and our best equipment to fulfill the needs that the government of India and the military identify for themselves. And I think there's a great potential to do much more," Scher said.

First Published: Nov 04, 2011 00:28 IST