India buys Lockheed planes, US sees breakthrough
uusjio | February 5, 2008 at 11:13 pmby
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India and the U.S. signed an agreement on Jan. 31 for Lockheed to start delivering the four-engine Super Hercules turboprop aircraft in 2011, said Bruce Lemkin, who handles U.S. Air Force international affairs.
The deal marks a major shift in weapons-buying policy by India, which for decades has relied heavily on Russian arms and transport aircraft.
The United States has been eager to boost strategic ties with India as a hedge against China's military clout.
Nicholas Burns, the No. 3 U.S. State Department official whose retirement was announced last month, wrote late last year that in reaching out to India, the United States was betting the planet's future lay in democracy and market economics
rather than "despotism and state planning," an apparent swipe at communist-ruled China.
"It really provides the centerpiece of a growing relationship between our two air forces," Lemkin, a deputy undersecretary of the Air Force who had been working on the
matter for almost two years, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
James Clad, deputy assistant U.S. secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, said the deal dwarfed all U.S. defense sales to New Delhi since Indian independence from Britain in 1947.
"This kind of puts us in a new environment," he said in an interview. "With this sale, India is ...