The Pentagon's top arms salesman will brief India next month on advanced US weapons, including the combat-tested Patriot PAC-3 air missile defense system plus two multi-role fighter aircraft, a spokesman said on Thursday.
The presentation of the Patriot Advanced Capability, or PAC-3, by Lt Gen Jeffrey Kohler, head of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, is significant because India has sought to buy another sophisticated anti-missile system, the Arrow, from Israel.
Kohler will travel to New Delhi early next month to meet Indian Defense Ministry officials, said Jose Ibarra, a spokesman for the agency that handles US government-to-government weapons sales. The presentation does not necessarily mean the United States is ready to sell India the PAC-3, described by its manufacturers as the world's most capable system of its kind, Ibarra said. "This is just a briefing on a weapons system," he said.
Raytheon Corp is the system's integrator. Lockheed Martin Corp builds the high-velocity interceptor missile designed to knock out incoming targets by smashing into them.
A PAC-3 sale to India could be destabilizing if archrival Pakistan viewed it as detracting from its deterrent capability, said Wade Boese, research director of the private Arms Control Association in Washington. Transfer of the Arrow, a joint US -Israeli venture, to India would violate the 1987 anti-proliferation pact known as the Missile Technology Control Regime, Boese said, because it could carry a 500-kilogram payload more than 300 kilometers. The PAC-3, on the other hand, would not violate the pact.
PAC-3 interceptors saw limited action during the US - led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Kohler's team will also brief Indian officials on the possible sale of Lockheed Martin-built F-16 or Boeing Co - built F/A-18 multi-role fighters in response to India's request for information on replacing its aging MiG-21 warplanes, Ibarra said.
The United States began a fresh phase of its delicate maneuvering between India and Pakistan in March with the announcement it would lift a ban on F-16 sales to Pakistan. At the same time, the administration said it was ready to discuss with India "the sale of transformative systems in areas such as command and control, early warning and missile defense."