Then the rumor of the transfer of our retired (or soon to be retired) Kitty Hawk seemed to be a win-win proposal for India and America. With a bonus slap at Russia.
Secretary Gates says he hasn't heard of such a proposal:
Q India has been in negotiations, in fact having trouble in negotiations, with Russia on an aircraft carrier. There has been a lot of speculation and conflict in reports emerging from the United States that there would be an offer -- (inaudible) --
Off mike commentary.)
SEC. GATES: This was the story, that I was going to bring the Kitty Hawk with me or something? (Laughter.)
Q (Inaudible) -- if that has ever crossed your radar.
SEC. GATES: It has not, not until I heard about it in the Indian press.
Q (Inaudible) -- most of the report.
SEC. GATES: I know there was an article in the U.S. press on this, but that was news to me.
I'd be willing to say that perhaps it is just that it hasn't yet reached Gates' desk, but the Indian effort to get Gorshkov seems to indicate there is no such proposal on the board:
India has agreed to pay an additional billion dollars to complete the refurbishment of the Russian aircraft carrier Gorshkov. In addition, India will send 500 shipyard workers, technicians and managers to Russia, to take direct charge of the work.
I checked Frontier India, but they don't mention it at all. (As an aside, their logo is much improved for Western eyes. I like to think I did my part to build our budding alliance when I emailed them to let them know that as traditional a Hindu symbol as the swastika is, they might want to reconsider it if they want Western traffic.)
I suppose the two deals don't have to be mutually exclusive, but the great idea I thought we'd had may not exist. India really is settling for crap.
UPDATE: Frontier India's publisher, P. Chacko Joseph, was kind enough to fill in several details for me. One, their navy still has a trust issue with our Navy. I'd guess that the appearance of Enterprise in the Bay of Bengal in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War (when India stripped East Pakistan away to become Bengladesh) must still sting.
Second, Kitty Hawk is considered too old to be useful. The ship would represent such an impressive hull that I assumed efforts to compensate for age would be worth it. But I know the Indian Navy got a good luck at Kitty Hawk in recent Malobar excercise, so they may have concluded differently.
Finally, and possibly most important as far as I can tell, India doesn't have a port with a berth large enough to hold Kitty Hawk. That would make any other consideration moot, I assume. It would cost a lot of money for that "free" ship.
So not as brilliant an idea as it first struck me. But the point remains, if India had gotten Kitty Hawk, elderly lady though she may be, India would have had the second-best carrier fleet in the world. They will anyway, in my opinion, but it will take decades.
Oh, and finally, he said they never got my email suggesting they change their logo. But it may be because they were looking for my at-umich-dot-edu address, which is just an alumni association benefit for incoming email that forwards mail to a conventional address. My outgoing address is a at-writemail-dot-com address.