In ad­di­tion to he­li­copters, the con­tract in­cludes night vi­sion sen­sors, GPS guid­ance and hun­dreds of Hell­fire anti-ar­mor and Stinger air-to-air mis­siles

Financial Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - LALIT K JHA

The Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has ap­proved a deal to sell six AH-64E Apache at­tack he­li­copters to In­dia for $930 mil­lion.

THE Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has ap­proved a deal to sell six AH-64E Apache at­tack he­li­copters to In­dia for $930 mil­lion as well as Hell­fire and Stinger mis­siles to bol­ster the coun­try’s abil­ity to de­fend its home­land and de­ter “re­gional threats”, the Pen­tagon said on Wed­nes­day.

The Pen­tagon’s no­ti­fi­ca­tion to the Congress comes ahead of the first 2+2 di­a­logue be­tween In­dia and the US next month in Wash­ing­ton in­volv­ing ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj and de­fence min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man and their US coun­ter­parts Mike Pom­peo and James Mat­tis.

Pen­tagon’s de­fence se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion agency no­ti­fied the Congress about the state depart­ment’s de­ci­sion. The sale is ex­pected to pass through if no law­maker op­poses the no­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The AH-64 Apache is a multi-role com­bat he­li­copter and is used by the US Army and a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional de­fence forces.

The con­tract also in­cludes fire con­trol radars; Hell­fire Long­bow mis­siles; Stinger Block I-92H mis­siles; night vi­sion sen­sors and in­er­tial nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems. In its no­ti­fi­ca­tion to the Congress, the Pen­tagon said, “This will strengthen In­dia’s abil­ity to de­fend its home­land and de­ter re­gional threats.”

“This sup­port for the AH-64E will pro­vide an in­crease in In­dia’s de­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­ity to counter ground-ar­mored threats and mod­ernise its armed forces. In­dia will have no dif­fi­culty ab­sorb­ing he­li­copters and sup­port equip­ment into its armed forces,” the Pen­tagon said. “The pro­posed sale of this equip­ment and sup­port will not al­ter the ba­sic mil­i­tary bal­ance in the re­gion,” it said.

A for­mal an­nounce­ment is ex­pected to be made shortly. The lead con­trac­tors are US arms, avi­a­tions and en­gi­neer­ing gi­ants Lock­heed Martin, Gen­eral Elec­tric and Raytheon.

Bi­lat­eral de­fence trade be­tween In­dia and the United States has risen from near zero to $15 bil­lion since 2008. “In­dia is pro­jected to spend bil­lions on mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion over the next decade, and we are ea­ger to seize op­por­tu­ni­ties for Amer­i­can in­dus­try. These sales sup­port our se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion while also gen­er­at­ing jobs at home,” a state depart­ment of­fi­cial told PTI.

US gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment sales to In­dia in re­cent years have in­cluded C-17 trans­port air­craft, 155 mm Light-Weight Towed How­itzers, UGM-84L Har­poon mis­siles, Sup­port for C130J Su­per Her­cules air­craft, and chem­i­cal, bi­o­log­i­cal, ra­di­o­log­i­cal and nu­clear sup­port equip­ment.

In ad­di­tion to these for­eign mil­i­tary sales cases val­ued at $ 1.62 bil­lion, In­dia has pur­chased $ 2.82 bil­lion in de­fence ar­ti­cles since 2013 via the direct com­mer­cial sales process. These in­clude air­craft, gas tur­bine en­gines, and elec­tron­ics, among other cat­e­gories of ma­jor de­fence ar­ti­cles.

“Next month’s in­au­gu­ral 2+2 di­a­logue is an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity for us to en­hance our en­gage­ment on crit­i­cal diplo­matic and se­cu­rity pri­or­i­ties. The di­a­logue is an in­di­ca­tion of the deep­en­ing strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween the US and In­dia and In­dia’s emer­gence as a lead­ing global power and net se­cu­rity provider in the re­gion,” the state depart­ment of­fi­cial said.

Not­ing that In­dia and the US share en­dur­ing in­ter­ests and val­ues as the old­est and largest democ­ra­cies, the of­fi­cial said In­dia is a key part­ner in Amer­ica’s ef­forts to en­sure that the Indo-Pa­cific is a re­gion of peace, sta­bil­ity and growing pros­per­ity.

“The US-In­dia de­fence and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion con­tin­ues to un­dergo a rapid ex­pan­sion as part of our deep­en­ing strate­gic part­ner­ship. In­dia is now one of our premier se­cu­rity part­ners in the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion,” the of­fi­cial said.

In­dia-US de­fence trade co­op­er­a­tion con­tin­ues to ex­pand, in­clud­ing through the US-In­dia de­fence trade and tech­nol­ogy ini­tia­tive, a part­ner­ship be­gun in 2012 which seeks to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for US-In­dia co-pro­duc­tion and co-devel­op­ment, fos­ter science and tech­nol­ogy co­op­er­a­tion, and re­move bu­reau­cratic bar­ri­ers to trade, the of­fi­cial said.

In 2016, In­dia was also awarded the sta­tus of a US ma­jor de­fence part­ner, which al­lows In­dia to re­ceive li­cense-free ac­cess to a wide range of mil­i­tary and du­aluse tech­nolo­gies that are reg­u­lated by the com­merce depart­ment. The two coun­tries also agreed to an up­dated 10-year de­fence frame­work pact in June 2015 to guide and ex­pand their bi­lat­eral de­fence and strate­gic part­ner­ship un­til 2025.

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