How the first phase of the Indo-US Air Defence Cooperation programme was launched
The first phase, which will see India’s newest fighter, the Indian-made BrahMos, flying from the United States to the European continent, is about to start, with an important milestone that will also be a test for India’s new Defence Minister, A.K. Antony.
Inaugural ceremonies will be held on April 25 at the Air Force Academy in Pensacola, Florida, for the second phase of India’s Indo-American Defence Cooperation, which includes the development of the Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter, two new fighter aircraft, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
(HAL) Su-35 fighter, and the new Type-95E amphibious transport helicopter.
The Air Force has been awarded a contract worth about $15.5 billion to develop the Sukh-40A and Sukhois Sukhoys.
It has a total of 16 aircraft, including four Type-90 amphibious assault helicopters and a Type-94A light attack helicopter.
The programme has been launched as part of a comprehensive defence strategy that aims to increase the interoperability of the military’s two biggest allies.
The project is a huge achievement in defence technology, and will give the Air Service a new platform to compete with the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and Russia’s Federal Navy.
In the past, the US has been the world’s largest arms supplier to India, but that has not been the case since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
The deal with HAL is India’s biggest acquisition of a foreign defence firm in recent years, with the first contract for the fighter aircraft awarded in 2012.
The deal for the amphibious helicopter, which is scheduled to be delivered in 2021, is also expected to bring more Indian military experience to the US.
S defence cooperation programme will contribute to the continued improvement of the Indian armed forces, including the development and maintenance of new systems, capabilities and equipment,” Defence Minister A. K. Antonies statement said.
The Indo US Air Defence cooperation programme, which has a budget of $10.5bn, was launched last year.
The first six aircraft will be delivered to the Air Forces of the US, while the remaining will be acquired from HAL, the defence agency.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has already tested the BrahMos in the US and India, and is expected to soon test its second fighter, a Type 45E aircraft.
India will have six operational BrahMos by 2022.