NEW DELHI:The US has offered to jointly produce fighter aircraft with India to plug the “critical shortage” faced by the IAF. “I see no reason why the US and India cannot build fighter aircraft together, right here in India,” US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma said on Friday.
He said that air power was required to protect overflight freedom, hinting at the rise of China and its encroaching role in the South China Sea. “Let us not forget that freedom of navigation also applies to, and depends on, the skies. Skies that are safe for flight demand that nations abide by the international law and respect overflight freedoms. Protecting such freedoms requires air power,” said Verma.
He noted that the US and India had already established a Jet Engine Technology Working Group “to pursue opportunities for the co-production and co-development of next generation engines to power Indian aircraft”.
Over the years, Verma said India had added US aircraft like C-17, C-130 and P8I to its inventory. “However, India faces a critical shortage of frontline fighter aircraft to patrol its skies and keep its airspace safe. Expanding our bilateral defence cooperation could help address that challenge,” said Verma, as he pitched for joint fighter aircraft development.
THe US and India are already working to develop an aircraft carrier, with the first meeting of the Joint Working Group scheduled to take place this week. Referring to the recent “cross-border terror attacks,” the US envoy said Washington 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 here, the US and India are united in this fight and the two countries will continue our focus for a better future,” he said.