No decision on buying US jets: Indian officials

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, June 24:

A day ahead of Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to the US, senior officials here said today that India had not made any decision yet on acquiring hi-tech military hardware offered by the US, including F-16 jets. “Nobody has selected (the F-16) or made a final decision on its purchase,” said a senior official familiar with the decision-making at the highest levels of the defence ministry. India has also made no decision on acquiring other hardware like the P3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft that had been offered to India from the US Navy’s surplus stocks, senior officials said. In recent months, the US has stepped up its efforts to pitch its F-16 and F-18 fighters in response to the Indian Air Force’s plans to purchase 126 jets to refurbish its ageing fighter fleet. The US jets are in competition with Russia’s MiG-29, France’s

Mirage 2000 and Sweden’s Grippen for the contract. Referring to objections from Left parties against signing any defence deals with US firms, the officials said the purchase of any US military hardware would be in keeping with a well established protocol that focuses on the technical performance and cost of the equipment.