Despite Fighter Shun, Indian Market Still Promising

India’s elimination of Boeing’s and Lockheed Martin’s bids in its medium multi-role combat aircraft competition was a “great disappointment,” but there’s still “a lot of opportunities out there” for US defense companies in India in the coming years, said Robert Blake, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs. “The Indians have about $35 billion in acquisitions that they’ll be making over the next several years. So American companies are, of course, well positioned to compete for those,” Blake told reporters Tuesday during a meeting in Washington, D.C. Despite heavy US lobbying, Indian officials last month whittled down their MMRCA options to either the French Rafale or the Eurofighter Typhoon, dropping Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed’s F-16IN from further consideration. Blake said the United States was prepared to license advanced technology, such as advanced electronically scanned array radar, to the Indians, so he didn’t think the licensing issue derailed US chances. Despite this outcome, Blake said the United States already has had “quite a lot of successes” with India of late, like selling Lockheed C-130Js and clearing the way for the sale of Boeing C-17s.