US Offers F-18 Fighter Jets To India
NEW DELHI: Seeking to develop further closer ties with India, the United States of America (USA) has offered its F-18 naval fighter jets for the Indian Navy’s requirements of combat jets for its aircraft carriers.
The Indian Navy had a few years ago expressed interest in the acquisition of 57 naval fighter aircraft for operations from its aircraft carriers including the present INS Vikramaditya and the under-construction Indigenous Aircraft Carrier.
“The American Government has offered to provide their naval fighter aircraft F-18 for the Indian Navy under a government proposal at the meeting between defence delegations of both countries during the 2+2 meetings,” government sources told ANI here.
The US government has offered to sell their F-18 fighters along with the unmanned aircraft Sea Guardian to the Indian Navy along with a number of other systems to the Indian armed forces in recent times.
At the moment, the Indian Navy has been assessing the F-18 and the Rafale naval fighters for its present and futuristic requirements as its present fighter is likely to be phased out by the end of this decade or the beginning of next.
The aircraft offered by the American government is said to be the advanced version of the plane which was on offer to the Indian Air Force for its requirement of 126 Multirole Medium Combat Aircraft in which only Rafale and European Eurofighter had been able to meet the qualitative requirements and finally the French plane had been selected.
Even the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal had to be scrapped, the Indian government showed faith in the French fighter and bought 36 of its under a Rs 60,000 crore deal.
The American fighter offered to the Indian Navy can be operated from aircraft carriers.
Both Rafale and F-18 have been showcasing the simulated capability of their respective fighter aircraft to take off and land at the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier to the Indian Navy.
In the recent past, the Indian Navy has moved towards American equipment in a big way as its long-range surveillance aircraft fleet consists of 12 P-8I aircraft and would have six more of these in near future.
The Sea King multirole helicopters would also be replaced by 24 MH-60 Romeos which are being acquired uNder a government to government deal.
American equipment including The C-17 heavy-lift and the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, M-777 ultra-light howitzers, Apache attack and Chinook heavy-lift choppers along with the SiG Sauer assault rifles have become mainstays in the Air Force and the Army in the last one decade.
The Americans have also shared a lot of information regarding the deployment and activities of the Chinese military in the military standoff.