US committed to strengthening partnership with India: Charge d'Affaires

2/2/2021

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Don Heflin, Charg d'Affaires of the United States in India, said on Tuesday that the United States is committed to strengthening its partnership with India and deepening military-to-military relationships and cooperation.

Addressing a press conference in Bengaluru on the eve of Aero India 2021, Heflin told reporters that the United States is a reliable partner to India's defence sector, offering the world's best defence equipment.

"India plays a key role in the Indo-Pacific region, and our cooperation advances our shared vision of a rules-based international order that promotes the prosperity and security of all countries," he said.

Heflin explained that the growing number of joint ventures and partnerships between U.S. and Indian defence companies continues to strengthen the robust network of defence suppliers in India, with the potential of equipping partners in the broader Indo-Pacific region. "These companies also create jobs, while producing exports for markets around the world," he observed.

Heflin said that the United States is a reliable partner to India's defence sector offering the world's best defence equipment.

"India plays a key role at the Indo-Pacific region and our cooperation advances our shared vision of a rules based international order that promotes prosperity and security of all the countries," he said.

Responding to a question on 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) and possible impact on sharing of critical technologies to Indian firms, Heflin said, India's defence procurement is an issue for the Indian government to decide.

He asserted that the US recognises India's desire to produce more of its military equipment.

"We understand that and look forward to a growing partnership in this effort, as this process unfolds, India will widely need to widely develop certain key capabilities, with careful use of outside procurements, to realise this ambition of a vibrant indigenous defence industrial sector," he elaborated.

Heflin further added that India-US defence partnership goes beyond defence manufacturing and trade. "We have signed foundational defence agreements and our military is engaged in joint exercises such as 'Tiger Triumph' and 'Malabar'," he said.

A high-level delegation of 100 US government officials and defence industry representatives is taking part in Aero India 2021, the country's premier defence and aerospace exhibition, starting here from Wednesday.

Among the highlights of the show, a B-1B Lancer heavy bomber, of the 28th Bomb Wing based out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, will perform a "fly-by" during the inaugural ceremony on February 3.

This marks the first time an American bomber has touched down in India.

The B-1B Lancer, a supersonic heavy bomber, is a truly remarkable aircraft, capable of carrying out missions worldwide from bases in the United States, as well as from forward-deployed locations. It carries the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the U.S. Air Force and is considered the backbone of America's long-range bomber force.

Source: IANS

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