Home National US-India Talks On F-35 Fighter Jets Still In ‘Early Stages’

US-India Talks On F-35 Fighter Jets Still In ‘Early Stages’

Aero India 2023: The US, which has come with its largest-ever delegation, said India is its ‘partner of choice’ and both sides are taking ‘next steps’ in enhancing their defence partnership.

by News Desk
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Bengaluru: The discussions on India procuring Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter jet are still in “early stages” even as the country remains one of Washington’s “premier security partner” in the Indo-Pacific, the US said Sunday at Aero India 2023. “We are still at the very early stages of India considering what it is interested in for its next generation Air Force fighter.

Those discussions on the India side are still very early and so I would say it’s far too premature to talk about that,” said Rear Admiral Michael L. Baker, Senior Defense Official & Defense Attaché, US Embassy, New Delhi. He added that the US-India defence partnership is an “important element” of US’ Indo-Pacific strategy.

This year, the US is participating in Aero India with the largest-ever delegation, headed by US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Elizabeth Jones. “This week you will have the chance to see American Airpower operating alongside the Indian Air Force: we plan to have a variety of aircraft here, one of our largest delegations ever,” Baker said.He added: “We haven’t been asked. We haven’t had those kind of high-level of discussions (on F-35).

India is very focussed on building its own future fighters.” The US is showcasing an F-16 Fighting Falcon duo, one of the United States Air Force’s (USAF) leading fighter jets, at the biennial show that will conduct daily aerial demonstrations. The F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet, the U.S. Navy’s most advanced frontline carrier-based multi-role strike fighter available today, will be on static display.


“India is one of our premier security partners in Indo-Pacific … What we are trying to do is to create a relationship that is layered at multiple levels that allows us to think together to transfer information, to transfer capability, knowledge, to exercise and train together in a manner that allows us meet the current security environment,” said Jedidiah P Royal, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs.

Royal also said that he would be taking forward the recent round of talks that took place between the national security advisors of both countries Jake Sullivan and Ajit Doval on the ‘US-India Initiative of Critical and Emerging Technology’, or iCET, by launching the defence dialogue. Initially, there will be discussions on artillery and mobility, Royal said.

Make in India Programme Provides Opportunity To US

Asked about India’s increasing shift towards self-reliance under the flagship plan of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, Royal said this provides a “significant opportunity” for the US to partner more with India. “We are using that rubric, that framework to greatest effect. The defence diplomacy is already well underway,” he said.

On the increasing partnership between India and the US in the Indo-Pacific, Royal said, “The world is changing and that there constant threats around the world.” According to Ambassador Jones, “India and the United States are working together in so many ways to ensure a free and open, prosperous, connected, and resilient Indo-Pacific region, where our democracies can thrive.”

She added: “As partners, we’re working together to address climate change; improve global health and prepare for new pandemics; cooperate on cyber challenges; build quality infrastructure; and ensure sustainable supply chains. We’re strengthening our cooperation on critical technologies, from space components to semiconductors.”

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