NEW DELHI: The US on Friday offered to produce fighter aircraft jointly with India to promote deeper military ties as it spoke about the Indian Air Force facing a “critical shortage” of front-line fighter jets.
Talking about the new developments in bilateral military ties, the American Ambassador here, Richard Verma, noted that India faces a critical shortage of front-line fighter aircraft for keeping India’s air space safe. “Defence cooperation can help to counter this challenge and I see no reason why the US and India can’t produce fighter aircraft together,” he said at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.
Countries like the UK, Germany, Sweden and France, too, are looking to join hands with India to manufacture fighter aircraft as the country faces a depletion of its air strength due to modernisation delays. Referring to US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to India in June, Verma said both countries had established a new aircraft carrier working group to support India’s indigenous programme.
“I’m happy to report that the first meeting of that group took place this week in the US,” he said. Verma stressed that US has committed to deepening its maritime security relations with India and, in March and again in April, the leaders of the US and Indian navies met and discussed how to improve maritime domain awareness.
“Now, we are into the planning stage of our 2015 Malabar joint naval exercise. We want to continue this exercise to deepen our maritime security relationship with India,” he said. Referring to the recent “cross border terror attacks,” Verma said the US condemns such acts in “the strongest possible terms” and stands with the people of India and all free people in fighting the curse of terrorism.
“There can be no place, no accommodation and no justification for violence on innocent people. As (US) President (Barack) Obama said during his visit to New Delhi, the US and India are united in this fight and the two countries will continue our focus for a better future,” Verma said.