March 2, 2006

US ready to sell advanced arms to India

By Charles Aldinger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on the heels
of a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation pact with India on
Thursday that it was prepared to sell advanced warplanes and
other high-tech arms to the south Asia nation.

"Where only a few years ago, no one would have talked about
the prospects for a major U.S.-India defense deal, today the
prospects are promising, whether in the realm of combat
aircraft, helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft or naval
vessels," the U.S. Defense Department said as President George
W. Bush paid a three-day visit to India.

"The next step is to turn the talk of prospective sales
into reality. The United States is committed to working with
India to do this," the department added in a statement released
to coincide with the president's visit.

The Pentagon release did not mention any specific deals
except to note that Washington was prepared to offer Lockheed
Martin F-16 and Boeing F/A-18 jet fighters to India.

"It is our goal to help meet India's needs in the defense
realm, and to provide important capabilities and technologies
that India seeks. We are on a path to accomplish this," the
Pentagon said in Washington.

"We have indicated our intention to offer both the F-16 and
the F-18, both combat proven aircraft. As additional
capabilities enter our force, we will work with the government
of India to make them available," it added.

"Our proposal will also address India's interest in
technology transfer and indigenous co-production."