The United States brought its most advanced fighter jet, the F-35, to India for the first time this week along with F-16s, Super Hornets and B-1B bombers, as Washington seeks to woo New Delhi away from Russia, its traditional military supplier. ,
India, desperate to modernize its largely Soviet-era fighter jet fleet to boost its air power, is concerned about delays in Russian supplies due to the Ukraine war and to distance itself from Moscow Facing pressure from the West.
The US delegation to the week-long Aero India show in Bengaluru, which ends on Friday, is the largest in the show’s 27-year history and underscores the growing strategic relationship between the United States and India.
In contrast, the presence of Russia, India’s biggest arms supplier since the days of the Soviet Union, was nominal. Its state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport had a joint stall with United Aircraft and Almaz-Antey, displaying miniature models of aircraft, trucks, radars and tanks.
In previous editions of the show, there was a more central location for Rosoboronexport’s stall, although Russia has not brought a fighter jet to Bengaluru for a decade after India began considering more European and American fighter jets.
Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet has already entered the race to supply fighter jets for the Indian Navy’s second aircraft carrier and Lockheed Martin’s F-21, unveiled at Aero India in 2019 Made for India An upgraded F-16 is also being introduced. To the Air Force
The Air Force’s $20 billion proposal to buy 114 multi-role fighter jets has been pending for five years, brought into focus by tensions with China and Pakistan.
According to an Indian Air Force (IAF) source, the F-35 is not being considered by India “yet”, but the display of two F-35s at Aero India for the first time was a sign of New Delhi’s growing strategic importance to Washington
Angad Singh, an independent defense analyst, said it was “not a sales pitch” but a signal of the importance of bilateral defense ties in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Even though arms sales are not the cornerstone of the relationship, there is collaboration and cooperation at the military level between India and the US,” he said.
The United States is selective about which countries it allows to purchase the F-35. Asked whether it would be offered to India, Rear Admiral Michael L. Baker, Defense Attaché at the US Embassy in India, said New Delhi was in the “very early stages” of considering whether it should want the aircraft.
A spokesman for the Indian Air Force did not respond to a request for comment about its interest in the F-35s.
Ahead of the show, Russian state news agencies reported that Moscow had supplied New Delhi with about $13 billion worth of arms over the past five years and had placed orders for $10 billion.
The United States has approved over $6 billion in arms sales to India over the past six years, including transport aircraft, Apache, Chinook and MH-60 helicopters, missiles, air defense systems, naval guns and P-8I Poseidon surveillance aircraft Is.
India is also looking to manufacture more defense equipment at home in collaboration with global giants, first to meet its own needs and eventually to export sophisticated weapon platforms.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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