US Ambassador Timothy Roemer on Thursday described as “deeply disappointing” New Delhi’s decision to reject two American combat jets that were amongst the six in contention for an Indian order of 126 fighters. Roemer said he had received the notification from the Indian government, and “we are respectful of the procurement process. We are, however, deeply disappointed by this news”. Nevertheless, he said, the US looked forward to continuing to grow and develop defense partnership with India.
He said the US was convinced that it offered the world’s most advanced and reliable technology to everyone. “I have been personally assured at the highest levels of the Indian government that the procurement process for this aircraft has been and will be transparent and fair. “I am extremely confident that the Boeing F/A 18IN and Lockheed-Martin F-16IN would provide the Indian Air Force an unbeatable platform with proven technologies at a competitive price.”
It is now virtually an all-European battle for the combat jet order with the US and Russia almost out of the race after the defence ministry asked EADS and Dassault to extend the validity of their commercial bids for 126 fighter jets. The contract is valued at $10.4 billion.