Monday, September 27, 2010

Indian Delegation in Arms Talks With Washington

Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony has begun talks with U.S. officials in Washington to win approval to purchase unspecified numbers of weapons and equipment that could be inked during President Barack Obama's visit to New Delhi in November, said Indian Defence Ministry sources.

Antony arrived in Washington on Sept. 26 heading what a senior Indian Defence Ministry official called a "high-powered delegation" to hold talks with U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser James Jones. The delegation includes Indian Permanent Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and the defense minister's adviser, Sundaram Krishna.

The Defence Ministry official said that while New Delhi is concerned over U.S. arms sales to Pakistan and the continuation of U.S. export controls against several Indian entities, New Delhi wants to increase defense ties with Washington.

Indian Defence Ministry sources said the weapons under discussion will include anti-ballistic missile systems and the sale of C-17 transport aircraft.

India plans to procure the David's Sling and Iron Dome missile defense systems. David's Sling is a joint effort between Rafael of Israel and Raytheon of the United States. New Delhi, which has already discussed the program with Israel, also needs to gets clearance from Washington because it is a joint Israel-U.S. program.

The Indian military wants David's Sling and Iron Dome to protect against cruise missiles. The Indian Air Force favors David's Sling because it is an effective hit-to-kill interceptor against short-range ballistic missiles, rockets and cruise missiles.

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