(AFP) – Oct 1, 2010
NEW DELHI — The United States has stepped up pressure on India to buy US military hardware worth up to 11 billion dollars, ahead of President Barack Obama?s first state visit to the country, a report said Friday.
Washington?s hopes of achieving a big commercial "deliverable" from Obama's visit next month are now pinned on a fighter jet deal, the Financial Times said, basing its report on unnamed sources.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates have pressed Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony to opt for US bids to supply over 100 multi-combat fighter aircraft to India, the paper said.
Antony is on a two-day visit to Washington.
The project, worth up to 11 billion dollars, is the world?s largest pending military hardware deal.
US-based Lockheed Martin and Boeing are among six foreign companies that India is evaluating, and winning the work would create or save thousands of US jobs, the FT said.
"We think we have the finest military hardware in the world, and if India is upgrading its defence capabilities, they should buy American," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said following Antony's meeting with Clinton.
The United States also hopes India might conclude a deal to buy 10 C-17 transport aircraft from Boeing in time for Obama's visit as part of a package worth as much as 3.5 billion dollars, the newspaper said.
Indian defence analysts say New Delhi faces a choice of turning to the US for sophisticated military equipment or maintaining supplies from Russia, its traditional defence partner.
New C-17s would replace India's ageing fleet of Russian Ilyushins while any new fighters would replace Sukhoi and MiG jets.
The selection of one of the US fighter jet bids would help cement a growing alignment of two of the world?s largest democracies -- a political bond Obama will stress heavily on his visit, the newspaper said.
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