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US eyes big Pakistan, India arms sales
Updated: 2005-12-26 09:44

Arms sales to India

Separately, the United States is poised to push in the new year for major arms sales to India.

The Bush administration is weighing, among other things, whether to let India buy a state-of-the-art radar system as part of a U.S. bid for a potential $5 billion contract to supply 126 multi-role fighters, Kohler said in the interview.

The possible supply of Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar, or AESA, would boost U.S. prospects against expected competition from Sweden, France and Russia. The technology is meant to let U.S. fighters detect and destroy enemy aircraft at significantly longer ranges.

An Indian purchase of either the F-16 or the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet built by Boeing Co., the other U.S. fighter on offer, would cement a sea change in U.S.-Indian bilateral ties since the end of the Cold War.

"Their pilots (would) come to our schools. We'll train with them. We will work very closely with their maintenance technicians," said Kohler, who has visited India three times in the past year. He said he may go back to New Delhi in March and was planning to send his deputy, Richard Millies, in late January or early February to coincide with an arms bazaar.

New Delhi's ultimate choice of its next fighter aircraft "will be a fairly significant political statement," he said.

India is widely said to be interested also in a range of U.S. arms, including P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, PAC-3 anti-missile systems and electronic warfare systems.

Analysts fear U.S. sales could fuel an arms race between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since the 1947 partition of British India.

If their rivalry flared anew, the United States could be on the hook to deliver sophisticated weaponry to a region on the brink of war, said Matt Schroeder of the Federation of American Scientists' arms sales monitoring project.

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