The Pentagon’s Nov. 2 report to Congress of US-India Security Cooperation concludes with a paragraph which sums up the Pentagon’s position regarding the possible sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to India, which has been widely reported but not previously confirmed. The paragraph follows:
Joint Strike Fighter and Potential Co-Development of Military Weapons Systems
The Department of Defense is continually looking for ways to expand defense cooperation with India. We are seeking opportunities for increased science and technology cooperation that may lead to co-development opportunities with India as a partner.
India has demonstrated its interest in upgrading its inventory of fighter aircraft. It intends to purchase 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft and is working with Russia on the development of the Sukhoi/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA).
The U.S. F-16 and F-18 competed, but were not down-selected, in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition in April 2011.
Despite this setback, we believe U.S. aircraft, such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), to be the best in the world. Should India indicate interest in the JSF, the United States would be prepared to provide information on the JSF and its requirements (infrastructure, security, etc.) to support India’s future planning.
The United States has taken many steps in recent years to facilitate science and technology and research and development cooperation with India. In so doing, we have signaled our unambiguous intent to pursue cooperative opportunities on increasingly sophisticated systems. As our relationship continues to mature, we expect co-development of armaments to become a reality.