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'US ready to support India to modernise its armed forces'

October 19, 2009 17:47 IST

Pitching for a robust Indo-US military ties, US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer said on Monday that America is ready to support India's drive to modernise its armed forces. "The United States is ready to support India in its drive to modernise its armed forces," Roemer said, inaugurating the five-day Cope India 2009 joint air exercises in Agra.

The US Ambassador 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 United States as a supplier of military equipment to India. I can tell you that our relationship is far different than it was even a few years back," he said. Stating that the Indo-US relationship had come a long way since those apprehensions were formed, he said "this is a different world today. Our cooperation in the spheres of energy, science and technology, agriculture, education and development and trade -- all point to an even stronger relationship. The defence realm will be no different." Referring to the C-130 Super Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, the US ambassador said both these aircraft were US airforce's work horses.

"I can assure you that the Indian Air Force 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. "Should you decide to acquire these aircraft--and I hope you will--we will do everything we can to assist you in expanding your strategic lift capability.

C-130J 'Super Hercules' is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft made by Lockheed Martin capable of carrying 20 tons or 92 fully armed airborne troops. C-17 'Globemaster' is a large Boeing-made military transport aircraft capable of carrying 75 ton or 135 troops. On the increasing scope, complexity and tempo of the Indo-US military exercises, Roemer said the Cope India 2009 will be the sixth air exercise between the air forces of the two countries since 2003.

"In addition, I note that the most complex US-India army exercise, Yudh Abhyas, is also currently underway a few miles down south of Agra in Babina. The deployment of US Army's Stryker (infantry combat vehicle) in this exercise as well as the IAF's deployment to the US last year for the Red Flag are examples of the increased level of engagement between our two militaries," he said. He said the US was looking forward to next year's Malabar naval exercise, which had grown considerably over the years.

The healthy and growing defence ties between India and US, Roemer said, was part of a broader strategic partnership that derived from common principle and shared national security interests. "As the world's largest democracies, we agree on vital importance of political and economic freedom, democratic institutions, the rule of law, security and opportunity. A strong, strategic relationship between US and India is crucial to addressing regional security challenges such as maintaining peace, security, and stability and responding to regional humanitarian crises and natural disasters when they occur," he added.

N C Bipindra in Agra
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