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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Strong defence bond with India: Roemer

Days after the Obama Administration cleared a $ 7.5 billion non-military aid to Pakistan, the United States Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer on Monday said New Delhi should not have any apprehension over its defence relationship with the US.
Inaugurating the joint air force exercise of the two countries, Cope-India, Roemer said, “Our relationship has come a long way.” Strategic and defence cooperation is one of the key pillars of the growing robust strategic partnership, said the US envoy, citing the example of IAF’s participation in the prestigious red-flag exercise in the US last year.
Making a strong case for selling the US-made military equipment to India, Roemer said, “Defence relationship (between India and the US) will be no different than the cooperation in the spheres of energy, science, technology, education, and trade.” He also allayed fears over reliability of America as a supplier of defence equipment to India.
“I know that some are apprehensive about reliability of the US as a supplier of military equipment to India. But I can tell you that our relationship is far different than it was even a few years back,” said Roemer, adding that Washington is ready to support India’s drive to modernise its armed forces. The US envoy opined that a strong strategic relationship between the two countries is crucial in addressing regional security challenges.
There’s a growing buzz in the defence circles that the US is eying a major chunk of India’s growing security needs. With India having a long-term military agreement with Russia, the US, in the recent past, has bagged orders, including long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the C130-J transporters and also the business jets for the VVIPs.
Referring to the C-130 Super Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, Roemer said, “I can assure you that the IAF will be very pleased with the decision to purchase the C-130 J. Your first aircraft will arrive in early 2011, a little over a year from now, and it will be everything you hope it to be.
We are proud to partner with you on this important programme,” he said. India has ordered for six C-130 J aircraft for its special forces operations and these aircraft will be based at the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad near the national capital. With regard to C-17, Roemer said a proposal to purchase this aircraft were at present under the Indian Defence Ministry's consideration.

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