Paris Air Show

India, Pakistan look West for fighter buys

 - December 13, 2006, 9:06 AM

The new combat aircraft requirement in India is a hot topic in the chalets here this week, thanks to its size and–for Boeing and Lockheed Martin–the prospect that this country could become a customer for U.S. warplanes for the very first time. Meanwhile, Lockheed seems likely to clinch the sale of 24 new F-16C/D Block 52 fighters to India’s prospective adversary, Pakistan, later this year.

The Indian air force (IAF) requested information on the Dassault Mirage 2000, the MiG-29, the Saab Gripen, the LM F-16 and possibly also on the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, for a buy of 126 aircraft. It called for technology collaboration and transfer, with up to 100 of the aircraft to be licensed-produced in India. The IAF already operates the Dassault Mirage 2000 and the Mikoyan MiG-29, but these have not been upgraded to the current standards offered by their manufacturers.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice discussed the possible supply of U.S. warplanes when she visited New Delhi in March, even as she reassured India on the potential new F-