Saturday, 17 March 2018

U.S. PACOM boss comes out in support of F-35 sale to India

Admiral Harry Harris is the first U.S. official to refer to such a potential sale

In what is the first public statement made by a senior U.S. government official on the prospect of an Indian order for the F-35 fighter, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris Jr. has come out in support of a potential sale of the fifth generation fighter aircraft to India.

In a hearing held by the U.S. House Armed Services Committee last month, Admiral Harris told members of Congress, “At the moment, India is considering a number of U.S. systems for purchase, all of which USPACOM fully supports: the F-16 for India’s large single-engine, multi-role fighter acquisition program; the F/A-18E for India’s multi-engine, carrier-based fighter purchase; a reorder of 12-15 P-8Is; a potential purchase of SeaGuardian UAS; MH-60R multi-role sea-based helicopter; and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

The reference to a sale of the fifth generation F-35 has never been made before by any U.S. government official and represents a shift in their willingness to bring it up for discussion with India.

As analyzed by StratPost in January, the main reason why there has been no discussion on such a potential sale is the reluctance on both sides to be the first to initiate a conversation about the prospect.

This appears to have changed.

Admiral Harris includes the F-35 among platforms that ‘India is considering’ ‘for purchase’ and emphasized these sales were ‘all of which USPACOM fully supports’.

Admiral Harris told the committee, “India will be among the U.S.’s most significant partners in the years to come due to its growing influence and expanding military. As a new generation of political leaders emerge, India has shown that it is more open to strengthening security ties with the U.S. and adjusting its historic policy of non-alignment to address common strategic interests. The U.S. seeks an enduring, regular, routine, and institutionalized strategic partnership with India. USPACOM identifies a security relationship with India as a major command line-of-effort.”

The two countries have planned a 2+2 meeting of foreign ministers and defence ministers next month.

Admiral Harris said in his remarks, “USPACOM will sustain the momentum of the strategic relationship generated by the POTUS-Prime Minister-level and the emerging 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue through strengthening our military-to-military relationship and working toward additional enabling agreements to enhance interoperability.”

He pointed out, “Over the past year, U.S. and Indian militaries participated together in three major exercises, executed more than 50 other military exchanges, and operationalized the 2016 Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). Defense sales are at an all-time high with India operating U.S.-sourced airframes, such as P-8s, C-130Js, C-17s, AH-64s, and CH-47s, and M777 howitzers.”

Original post: stratpostcom

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