Indian decision on F-16, F-18 could lead to 5th gen fighter jets: US official

Prime News, International (Washington), April 6:- The trajectory of the India-US defence ties in the fighter jet segment depends on New Delhi’s decision on the F-16 and F-18 warplanes being offered by the US, a top Defence Department official has said.

A positive decision by India could be a precursor to advanced fifth-generation fighter technology, Joe Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia said, adding that the Trump administration would like a closer co-operation with India on fighter jets.

“So, starting down the path of fighter cooperation beginning with the (F-16) Block 70 or F-18, I think would be a great signal that the India (is) serious about the level of cooperation that we think would be in India’s interest and could potentially, if we stay on this trajectory, lead to even closer cooperation, and even more advanced technology being offered,” Felter said.

“..I think it would be a natural progression to discuss at a later date sharing even more advanced fighter technology (maybe even fifth-generation fighters),” he said.

The US is also considering New Delhi’s interest in armed drones for its air force, the official said, noting that neither have they received any offer nor have they made any decision on this count.

“It would be natural for India to want them. We would have to consider this request but it hasn’t been offered on our side yet. We are aware of their interest and we are considering that. But we haven’t made any decisions,” he said.

Last year, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, Trump had agreed to sell unarmed drones to India so as to enhance India’s surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean.

Asked about the fifth generation F-35 fighter jets, the official said there was no move from either side as was being reported in the media. The F-18 deal, however, was very much on the table, the official said. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).




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