Donald Trump administration asked to push for F-16 sale to India

Mar 26, 2017, 09:34 IST | Agencies

NSA Doval meets US Defence Secy, reaffirms Indo-US ties in defence cooperation

James Mattis (left) greets Ajit K Doval in Washington
James Mattis (left) greets Ajit K Doval in Washington

Washington: Two top Senators have urged the Trump administration to push for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to India to build its capability to counter security threats and balance China's growing military power in the Pacific.

Senators Mark Warner from Virginia and John Cornyn from Texas in a joint letter to US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, the Trump administration must make the fighter jet acquisition a priority during initial bilateral discussions with India.

Major prospect customer
India has launched an effort to expand its combat aircraft fleet and the competition has reportedly narrowed down to Lockheed's F-16 and Saab's Gripen. The two Senators said India remains the only major F-16 prospect customer.

"Given the strategic significance of India selecting a US aircraft as the mainstay for its future Air Force and the potential for a decision this year, we ask that the administration make the fighter acquisition a priority during initial bilateral discussions," Warner and Cornyn wrote.

India-US cooperation
The Trump regime is seeking to deepen its counter-terrorism cooperation with India and expand it further, sources here said after National Security Advisor Ajit K Doval's high profile meetings with James Mattis and other top US officials.

The common thread in the meeting was expansion and deepening of India-US cooperation in collectively addressing the challenge posed by terrorism in South Asia. Both leaders reaffirmed building upon the significant defence cooperation progress made in recent years.

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