US hopes India will pick its military choppers

November 11th, 2011 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

F-16 Washington, Nov 11 (IANS) After losing out to European competitors in the deal to supply India 126 multi-role combat jets, the United States has evinced strong interest in participating in India’s tender for attack and heavy-lift helicopters.

“I have also advocated for our tenders in the attack helicopter and heavy-lift helicopter competitions. We are hopeful that both will be selected,” US Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro told the Defence Trade Advisory Group.

Among the US contenders in the race to supply the Indian Air Force 22 combat and 15 heavy-lift helicopters are Boeing’s AH-64 D Apache and Chinook respectively.

The reportedly $550 million-tender aims to replace India’s ageing helicopter fleet and trials were said to be on in the hot, humid deserts of Rajasthan and the icy Himalayan heights of Ladakh and Leh.

India had in April rejected Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and F-18 aircraft in what’s described as the world biggest defence deal for supply of Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for an estimated $10.4 billion.

Referring to the setback Shapiro said: “While India unfortunately did not down-select a US aircraft for its MMRCA competition, I believe our relationship with India is much more than one sale.”

At the AeroIndia show in Bangalore in February too, Shapiro advocated for US defence sales, suggesting that Indian acquisition of US defence equipment was woven into the fabric of a stronger US-India strategic partnership.

“We seek a stronger strategic partnership with India, including the promotion of Indian acquisition of US defence equipment. This effort has led to India’s acquisition of ten C-17 aircraft and a request for six more C-130J aircraft,” he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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