The Indian Defense Secretary on Wednesday dismissed the possibility of India planning the acquisition of a fifth generation fighter aircraft, alternate to the Russian PAK FA.
Pradeep Kumar, who is the top civil servant in the Ministry of Defense told reporters on Wednesday that, while the agreement for design and development of the PAK FA is expected to come through with Russia, after the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approves the details, “You can’t have two types (of fifth generation fighters).
Pointing out that the US was, even now, working on the development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Kumar categorically repeated, “There is no question of having two fighters.”
The Indian Navy, in a Request for Information (RFI) for carrier-borne fighter aircraft issued last year, had asked for information on the F-35 from the US defense and aerospace major, Lockheed Martin. The company, along with other vendors, had made presentations on the aircraft to the navy, but presumably, the idea of acquiring the F-35 has gone no further than that.
The Defense Secretary also ruled out the possibility of acquiring any of the embattled British Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, one of which will not carry fighter aircraft and is to be mothballed three years after commissioning. “Why would we buy one?” he asked, adding that India was on track with its aircraft carrier program.
Speaking on the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama to India, he indicated the Ministry of Defense to be still studying the issue of signing agreement like the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) and Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) with the US, saying, “Our people should also feel it should benefit us.”
India is contemplating the purchase of 10 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft for USD 5.8 billion, six additional C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, in addition to the six already ordered for over a billion dollars, and four additional P-8I long range maritime aircraft for over a billion US dollars, in addition to the eight already on order for USD 2.2 billion. Besides this, India is conducting trials for the purchase of the BAE Systems-built M777 Ultra Light Howitzer through the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) route.