The Buzz

Are America and India Building an 'Aircraft Carrier' Alliance?

In addition, Tillerson’s most prominent speech since taking office was about improving relations with India. In the speech, which was given right before he visited India, the secretary of state declared: “But another more profound transformation that’s taking place, one that will have far-reaching implications for the next 100 years: The United States and India are increasingly global partners with growing strategic convergence.” He added: “The emerging Delhi-Washington strategic partnership stands upon a shared commitment upholding the rule of law, freedom of navigation, universal values, and free trade. Our nations are two bookends of stability — on either side of the globe — standing for greater security and prosperity for our citizens and people around the world.”

The launch system is not the only arms deal the Trump administration is eyeing with regards to India’s future aircraft carrier. In January of this year, the Indian Navy began soliciting bids from international firms for 57 carrier-based aircraft. The proposals India received were for American  F-18s, French Rafales, Swedish Sea Gripens, and Russian MiG-29Ks. The Hindustan Times said this week that “It is understood that President Trump is expected to discuss the F-18 and F-16 offer to India during his meeting with PM Modi to boost military capacities and dominance.”

The growing military sales between the United States and India are likely to come at the expense of Russia, which has traditionally served as Delhi’s primary arms patron. Between 2000 and 2016, Russia accounted for 72 percent of India’s arms imports. During that same time, India accounted for 30 percent of Moscow’s arms sales abroad. In 2012 and 2013, Russia sold India over $4 billion in weaponry, according to a report by Chatham House. Sales have dipped slightly in recent years, however. China’s increasingly sophisticated military is a major reason that India seeking out American weaponry instead of the less advanced Russian models.

Zachary Keck (@ZacharyKeck) is a former managing editor of The National Interest.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.