Saturday, May 28, 2011

India Pulls Two Out of the Air

India has reduced their choices for new fighters to two European firms, knocking out the two US firms:

After a gruelling, two-year process including field trials of the six aircraft in extreme weather conditions, the Defence Ministry shortlisted two European firms—EADS and Dassault Aviation. Swedish Firm Saab and Russian RSK MiG were the other two bidders left disappointed.

I think India would have been better off picking our fighters, since having common aircraft would make it easier for American forces to operate off of Indian bases to help them out during a war. Europe won't do that. Ever. But the European planes are newer and probably are a better technical choice.

But the first article notes a deeper purpose that makes sense:

‘The decision to favour Europe in this deal could also have been prompted by concerns about European economies falling like ninepins and being bailed out by cash-rich China,’ he wrote. ‘Building partnerships in Europe is important, even if less so than building one with the US. Moreover, while promoting Europe as a partner of the Indian Air Force, the US can still emerge as the key partner for India’s increasingly important Navy.’

Note that we have lots of expensive arms deals with India, such as P-8 ASW, C-130 and C17 transport aircraft, and M-777 lightweight 155mm howitzers.

Russia, too, has lots of arms contracts, including top-end fighter research and a carrier being refurbished.

Keeping America, Russia, and Europe locked into arms sales to India would tend to reduce Chinese opportunities to isolate India by dangling money at any of the three and insisting that nobody should arm their foe India as a price of doing business with China. But is a European country going to be that steadfast in the face of Chinese pressure?