Talks For US Combat Systems In Advanced Stage

New Delhi, Aug 25: | Updated: Aug 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
India is in an advanced stage of talks with the US for buying the combat systems for the first time. An expert team made a trip to the US last month to discuss supply of the P3 Orion multi-mission maritime aircraft equipped with Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Interestingly, around the same time a mobile team from Dayton, Ohio, was in New Delhi to conduct a one-week executive course for the defence procurement board to educate them all about FMS deals.

If the India goes through the FMS, then the deals are clean and transparent. It comes as a package which includes manuals about the equipment, sources at the American embassy here said. According to sources, the talks between the Indian team and the Lockheed Martin, vendors for the P3 Orion were positive. The talks were directly between the vendor and the government and no direct request was made to the US government for the P3 Orions, they added. Indian Navy is looking for maritime reconnaissance version of the P3 Orions from the US.

Presently, licenses for the sale of the 21 items are now awaiting notification by the US Congress. These items include weapon locating radars, aircraft engines and submarine rescue facilities. Observers say this marks a a turning point in the Indo-US relationship.

So far, the US sold India only two squadrons of C-119 Packet transport aircraft in the early 1950s, six two-seater Bel G3 casualty evacuation helicopter and four Sikorsky S55 helicopters around 1958. But the 1958 US-Pakistan alliance in the cold war backdrop stopped even the transfer of non-lethal defence equipment to India.

Between 1954 and 1958, the US revamped the Pakistan military. Pakistan got the US F-104 - then among the only three supersonic fighter aircraft in the world - along with the British Lightening and the Soviet MiG-21 - and the F-86 Sabrejets by 1956. India was forced to buy the Mystere jets from France and the Hunters from Britain as a counter-balance in 1957 and 1958. The US gave Pakistan the B-57 bombers and India shopped for the Canberra in Britain.