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Senators push Trump on defense deals with India

Discussion in 'Indian Defence Industry' started by Layman, Mar 25, 2017.

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    Senators push Trump on defense deals with India

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    A bipartisan pair of senators is hoping to speed up Lockheed Martin's plan to open a production line for the F-16 in India, as well as approve a drone sale to the country.

    Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent a pair of letters this week to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, urging them to sign off on the F-16 production line in India and approve the export of the Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft, a non-lethal maritime surveillance platform.


    The lawmakers — co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus — argue that both sales would bolster the U.S.-India military relationship.

    India has been looking to buy new fighter aircraft since 2007 and in October relaunched a competition with the F-16 and the Saab Gripen as the two contenders.

    Lockheed has since pledged to open a production line in India for the F-16s, but the plan has yet to be approved by the new administration.

    The lawmakers urge Mattis and Tillerson “to weigh in forcefully with the White House on the strategic significance of the deal,” arguing the F-16 production line solely relies on international buys, with the last aircraft made for the United States in 1999.

    “Keeping the F-16 in production will help sustain a fleet of over 1,000 aircraft currently in the Air Force and help preserve thousands of American jobs in the supplier base across 42 states, maintain approximately 800 high value design and engineering jobs in the United States, and extend the only scalable single engine 4th generation fighter aircraft as a significant security cooperation tool for the United States,” the lawmakers write.


    The two senators also push for the sale of the Guardian to India in a second, separate letter. India requested the Guardian in June, a request that has been pending with the U.S. government since.

    “The Guardian is exclusively manufactured in the United States, and a potential sale to India is estimated to be valued at over $2 billion across the life of the program,” the second letter states.


    “Lack of support for this sale will not only have implications for regional security in the Asian Pacific, but could also significantly impact the MQ-9 production line and put thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs at risk.”


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