US and India’s strategic relationship is going to get to the next level even though Russian deals have been signed in the last year including a contract on the S400 deal. “If there has to be a lasting Defence relationship with US many in the US Administration and Congress feel the fighter aircraft program is the only large commitment that can balance the influence of Russians on New Delhi,” said sources. It is expected that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with the US President Donald Trump issues related to military sales will be on the table for discussion when he visits that country from Sept 21-27.
The Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force is already waiting for the UAVs from the US which will come through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) soon. Highly placed sources have confirmed that “The request for the UAVs from the Indian Army and the Navy is still there. In fact last week there was a meeting between the officials of both sides to discuss the sales of the UAVs.”
The US administration is aware that the request for the drones by the Indian Army and the Navy have been clubbed –which means each will buy 10 each and it is different than the one that the IAF is seeking. India is looking at 30 UAVs for all its three services.
US aerospace company Lockheed Martin earlier this year had unveiled an India unique platform the F21 for the fighter requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF) earlier this year at the Aero-India. This company is also the only one in the world which has operational fifth-generation aircraft like the F22 and F35. During the visit, it is likely that an announcement related to Lockheed Martin’s $ 2 billion 24 MH60R anti submarine helicopters for the Indian Navy could be made.
Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Lockheed Martin, had in an earlier interaction had mentioned that the F-21 has been tailored to meet the IAF requirements and is the only fighter in the world which will come with both probe/drogue. Also, it will have a boom aerial fuelling capability. He had also said that other changes which are specific to India included Advanced Electronic Warfare (EW) System.
Also, the Boeing Company has offered to set up a production line if India places an order for the F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet fighters for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.
Top Boeing officials in an earlier interaction had said that the US Navy has made huge investments in the Block III, F/A-18 Super Hornet which is the most advanced fighter India could locally manufacture and this will help in the AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft).
The Advanced Medium Combat aircraft (AMCA) is slated to be a fifth-generation plane which is in the process of being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The Boeing Company has offered F/A 18 Super Hornet for the Indian Air Force requirement of 114 aircraft and Indian Navy’s planned acquisition of 57 multi-role carrier-borne fighters for its aircraft carrier.
Raytheon’s National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II ::
This has been designed as a competition to the S-400 Triumf advanced air defence missile system of Russia and has the capability to intercept ballistic missiles at high altitude. As has been reported earlier, Raytheon’s National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II) missile shield system which is going to be contracted by India is likely to be announced next week. This Rs 6,000 crore system from the US is expected to secure India’s airspace against aerial threats ranging from drones to ballistic missiles.
What is NASAMS-II?
It is an upgraded version of the Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace/Raytheon National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS).
It has new 3D mobile surveillance radars and 12 missile launchers which can be used for quick reaction.
Its battery has up to 12 multi-missile launchers. And each of them carries six AIM-120-series advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs) or other surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
There are eight AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel X-band 3D radars.
Fire Distribution Centres (FDCs) and MPS 500 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor system vehicles.
The Trump administration has also offered Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile defence systems to India.