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March 26, 2023
In an attempt to tempt India to distance itself from Russia, the United States has arrived in India’s capital city New Dehli with the F-35, F-16s, Super Hornets and B-1B bomber.
Russia’s presence was more modest as they arrived with their state-owned weapons exporter Rosoboronexport and had a joint stall with United Aircraft and Almaz-Antey, where they displayed miniature models of aircraft, trucks, radars and tanks.
India has regularly purchased their jets from Russia, however they are looking to modernize their fleet. India has become worried about both delays in equipment arriving from Russia due to their war with Ukraine and also pressure from the West to stop doing business with Russia.
Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets are already in the mix to supply fighter jets for the Indian Navy’s second aircraft carrier and Lockheed Martin’s F-21, which is an upgraded F-16 designed for India unveiled at Aero India in 2019, have also been offered to India’s air force.
A $20 billion air force proposal to buy 114 multi-role fighter aircraft has been pending for five years, brought into sharp focus by tensions with China and Pakistan.
The F-35 is not being considered by India “as of now”, according to an Indian Air Force (IAF) source, 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.
A $29 billion air force proposal to buy 114 multi-role fighter aircraft has remained on ice for 5 years.
The Indian Air Force have confirmed that the F-35 is not being considered by India “as of now.”
Angad Singh, who is an independent defense analyst, said that placing the F-35 on display at New Delhi was “not a sales pitch” but an attempt to develop a bilateral defense relationship between the two countries.
“Even if weapons sales aren’t the cornerstone of the relationship, there is a cooperation and collaboration at the military level between India and the US,” he added.
The United States are very particular about which countries they will sell F-35’s to.
When Rear Admiral Michael L Baker, who is defense attache at the US embassy in India, was asked about the possibility of the F-35 being sold to India, he cautioned that India was in the “very early stages” of considering whether it wished to purchase the plane.
Russian state media stated prior to the show that India had purchased $13 billion of arms in the past five years and have placed further orders totaling $10 billion.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN
PHOTO CREDIT: PEOPLE’S GAZETTE