United States attempts to lure India away from Russia by displaying F-35s and bombers

By Krishn Kaushik; Edited by News Gate Team

A U.S. Air Force F-35 fighter jet taxis during the Aero India 2023 air show at Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru, India, February 13, 2023. REUTERS/Samuel Rajkumar/File Photo

BENGALURU, 17 FEB. Last week, the US brought the F-35, its most modern fighter jet, together with F-16s, Super Hornets, and B-1B bombers to India for the first time in an effort to lure New Delhi away from Russia, its longtime military supplier.

India, which is frantically trying to update its primarily Soviet-era fighter jet fleet in order to increase its air force, is worried about Russian supply disruptions brought on by the conflict in Ukraine and is under pressure from the West to sever ties with Moscow.

The largest American delegation in the 27-year history of the Aero India exhibition in Bengaluru, which finishes on Friday, highlights the expanding strategic partnership between the United States and India.

In contrast, Russia, India’s largest weapons supplier since the Soviet Union days, had a nominal presence. Its state-owned weapons exporter Rosoboronexport had a joint stall with United Aircraft and Almaz-Antey, displaying miniature models of aircraft, trucks, radars and tanks.

Despite the fact that Russia hasn’t sent a fighter jet to Bengaluru in ten years—since India started considering more European and American fighter jets—Rosoboronexport had a more prominent location for their stall in earlier iterations of the exhibition.

The second aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy is in need of fighter jets, and Lockheed Martin’s (LMT.N) F-21, an updated F-16 built for India and revealed at Aero India in 2019, is also being offered to the air force. Boeing (BA.N) F/A-18 Super Hornets have already entered the race.

Tensions with China and Pakistan have pushed a $20 billion air force proposal to purchase 114 multi-role fighter aircraft into stark relief, which has been on hold for five years.

According to an Indian Air Force (IAF) source, India is not considering the F-35 “as of now,” but the first-ever demonstration of two F-35s at Aero India was a sign of Washington’s growing strategic relevance to New Delhi.

According to independent defense analyst Angad Singh, it was “not a sales pitch” but rather a signal of the value of the bilateral defense relationship in the Indo-Pacific area.

Even while arms sales aren’t the foundation of the relationship, he continued, “India and the U.S. are cooperating and collaborating at the military level.”

The United States is selective about which countries it allows to buy the F-35. When asked if it would be offered to India, Rear Admiral Michael L. Baker, defence attache at the U.S. embassy in India, said New Delhi was in the “very early stages” of considering whether it wanted the plane.

An IAF spokeperson did not respond to a request for comment on its interest in F-35s.

Ahead of the show, Russian state news agencies reported that Moscow had supplied New Delhi with around $13 billion of arms in the past five years and had placed orders for $10 billion.

The United States has approved arms sales worth more than $6 billion to India in the last six years, including transport aircraft, Apache, Chinook and MH-60 helicopters, missiles, air defence systems, naval guns and P-8I Poseidon surveillance aircraft.

In addition, India aspires to increase domestic defense equipment production in partnership with multinational corporations, initially to meet domestic demand and ultimately to export advanced weapon platforms.

By Krishn Kaushik; Edited by News Gate Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe for Daily Latest News!
Subscribe Now!
No spam ever, unsubscribe anytime.