Bangalore: U.S. Ambassador to India David Mulford is in Bangalore to lend voice to the aggressive pitch by American companies to sell armament systems and technology to the Indian Defence forces. In addition to major aircraft manufacturers, it is said that more than 20 Defence contractors from the U.S. have descended on Aero India 2007, and Dr. Mulford made no secret of the fact that any deals signed would generate jobs back home.
"U.S.-India relations in the last two to three years have grown enormously in a positive direction. There has been substantial growth in defence contacts, and joint exercises are getting larger and more complex. We now hope to make a significant breakthrough in Defence sales," he said. India is still wary of making big-ticket purchases from America after the post-Pokharan sanctions. Seeking to soothe such feelings, Dr. Mulford said, "We are a reliable supplier or so many companies wouldn't be here. The way to assure reliability is to work with us. We need good faith on both sides."
When questions were raised on whether there was a quid-pro-quo on Iran for the nuclear deal, Dr. Mulford denied it strongly but said the U.S. expected some "favourable treatment" from India.
Dr. Mulford's team hinted that a Request For Information (RFI) might be coming from the Indian Air Force (IAF) for the heavy transport aircraft C-17 Globemaster and the helicopter CH-47 Chinook. Also, there might be a deal in the offing to refurbish the Jaguar fighter aircraft.
Terming India's offset policy on big Defence deals "fairly restrictive," Dr. Mulford said they were open to many options, including joint ventures, local production and technology transfers as long as it benefited the interests of both the countries.