(US Secretary of Defence)
The US Secretary of Defence retired General James Mattis has a two point-agenda for his trip starting September 25 – get New Delhi to commit to purchasing the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 combat aircraft along with its assembly line under the aegis of the bilateral Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), and to give assurances that India’s Afghanistan policy will not undercut the American strategy to prevent the restoration of Taliban rule in Kabul. The F-16, a 1970s-era aircraft with zero potential for further development, is a hard sell. The Afghanistan issue will be just as tricky because, from the Indian perspective, the Pakistan angle skews what’s asked of India.
The F-16 was the first to be dropped by the Indian Air Force when short-listing aircraft for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) acquisition. Lockheed Martin has not had much success pushing this aircraft as…
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