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India "seriously looking" to co-produce weapon systems with US

WASHINGTON (PTI): India has shortlisted five of the 17 hi-tech items of military hardware offered by the US for co-production and co-development under a one-of-its kind American offer to boost bilateral defence cooperation.

These items are believed to be - naval guns, mine scattering anti-tank vehicles, unmanned aerial surveillance system, Javelin missiles, and aircraft landing system for carriers, informed defence sources familiar with the development between the two countries, told PTI.

The five are "currently being looked at more seriously" by India's DRDO and Defence Ministry.

It was more than a year ago that the US in consultation with its private sector had offered India a list of 17 hi-tech defence items for co-production and co-development.

The one-of-its kind offer was made under the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) launched under the previous UPA government.

The list of 17 American defence items, which remains classified and has not been made public, was reviewed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Ministry of Defence.

According to informed sources, these five projects are now being reviewed by the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, following which the Indian Government would convey its decision to the Pentagon about the projects that it is interested in for co-production and co-development.

Despite India opting for the Israeli "Spike" anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), the US-made Javelin has not been ruled out, sources said.

The US has offered to co-produce the third-generation Javelin ATGMs, and co-develop its fourth-generation version.

It is believed that India had pre-informed the US about its decision to opt for the Israeli missile to meet its immediate and short-term needs.

"We respect the Indian decision making process on this. It is a sovereign decision that India has to make. Obviously we think that American products and American systems have a lot to offer. We would have liked to win that (Javelin) competition.

"But there is a huge amount of possibility, and a number of spheres we want to talk to India about," US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Puneet Talwar said on the eve of his visit to New Delhi.


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