This report on Eurasia.net by the South Asia Analysis Group this morning on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to New Dehli last week raises some very big questions. Among them: If this is true, why didn’t the US government offer the F-35 to India in the first place? And does the “unbelievable” description of the $65 million F-35 price tag imply a positive or negative connotation?
By Rajeev Sharma
The visiting United States Secretary of State Hillary, who held the second Indo-US Strategic Dialogue with her Indian counterpart S M Krishna in New Delhi on July 19, failed to give any concrete assurance to India on its concerns about Nuclear Suppliers’ Group’s recent hardening of ENR (Enrichment and Reprocessing) technology transfer terms …
Clinton is understood to have made a strong pitch for more US military sales to India, especially in the wake of American companies recently losing out in the race for a $ 10.4 billion order by the Indian Air Force for 126 fighter aircraft. She expressed her country’s willingness to sell state-of-the-art F 35 warplanes to India at “unbelievable” prices. The Americans are understood to have asked the Indian government to open its purse strings for the Lockheed built fifth generation super stealth F-35 Lightning the basic model of which is being made available to India for $ 65 million apiece. The Indian defence establishment would naturally find the offer too good to be true as much inferior fourth generation French Rafale is priced at $ 85 million and Eurofighter Typhoon (also a fourth generation aircraft) at $ 125 million apiece. The American offer signals American desperation for capturing a big pie of the highly lucrative Indian defence market, especially after two top American fighter aircraft manufacturers – Lockheed (F-16) and Boeing (F-18) – got eliminated in the recent Indian MMRCA deal worth $ 10.4 billion. More clarity would have to emerge on the proposed F 35 Lightning sales to India.