US ready to sell F-35 fighter to India: Pentagon

WASHINGTON, November 2, 2011 (AFP) – The United States would be prepared to sell India the new F-35 fighter jet, the Pentagon said Wednesday, after New Delhi rejected a US offer of older aircraft in a major competition this year. “While the report shows that tremendous progress has been made in military-to-military relations over the past ten years, we believe that there is much more that can be done,” Senator Joe Lieberman said in a statement. In a report to Congress on US defense ties with India, the Pentagon said India was a vital partner and that Washington wanted to bolster security cooperation with New Delhi, including joint exercises and high-tech arms sales.

In the first round of a contest for a combat aircraft contract, India in April shortlisted France’s Dassault and the European Eurofighter consortium while rejecting the US offer of F-16 and F-18 jets.

“Despite this setback, we believe US aircraft, such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), to be the best in the world,” said the Pentagon report, referring to the radar-evading F-35 jet.

“Should India indicate interest in the JSF, the United States would be prepared to provide information on the JSF and its requirements… to support India’s future planning