During a December 3-4 visit to New Delhi by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, the United States and India announced that Washington had recently authorized licenses to export U.S. weapons to New Delhi and that other Indian defense requests were under “expeditious review.”
A joint statement by the two governments noted that the United States has approved export licenses for “weapon locating radars” to India as well as licenses for other exports not explicitly identified. When asked for more details about the radars, a Defense Department spokesman declined, claiming that such information would conflict with the manufacturer’s proprietary rights.
The joint statement also claimed that Washington was reviewing possible exports of jet engines, multi-mission maritime aircraft, and radars, as well as components and systems for India’s ongoing light combat aircraft program, which has been on the drawing board since the early 1980s. Several factors have delayed development of the light combat aircraft, including the imposition of U.S. sanctions on military ties and deals with New Delhi following its May 1998 nuclear tests. The Bush administration lifted those sanctions in September, clearing the way for U.S. arms exports to and cooperation with India.
To help review and discuss possible future arms deals, the two sides also agreed to create a new forum, the Security Cooperation Group. The group’s first meeting will take place as early as February.
Apart from potential arms deals, Feith and his Indian counterparts, who were meeting through the recently revived U.S.-India Defense Policy Group, set the stage for scheduling future joint military visits, exercises, and training programs. Feith also gave a briefing on the U.S. missile defense program and invited Indian officials to view “certain missile defense exercises,” which a Pentagon spokesperson said includes a simulation in the coming months and a visit to a missile defense exercise scheduled for June 2003.
In addition, recent Israeli news reports claim the United States has tacitly approved the sale of an advanced Israeli airborne early-warning radar system, the Phalcon, to India. An Israeli official interviewed January 7 said the proposed sale has been discussed with U.S. officials and that Washington has not yet raised any objections. In July 2000, Israel stopped a sale of the Phalcon system to China because of U.S. protests.