Sunday, January 20, 2008

U.S. offers to help India develop missile shield

Lockheed Martin, a U.S. defense industry giant, has expressed an interest in helping India develop its own missile defense network, an Indian news agency said on Friday.

India, a nuclear power, announced in December last year a final successful test of the Akash anti-ballistic missile under an ambitious plan to build a national missile shield.

"Our doors are open for cooperation with India in the area of anti-ballistic missile defense," the Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted Dennis Cavin, Lockheed Martin's vice president for International Air and Missile Defense Business Development, as saying.

Cavin is expected to visit New Delhi in February to discuss cooperation prospects with Vijay Kumar Saraswat, program director for ballistic missile development at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

The company official said India could be interested in missile guidance technologies developed by the U.S. firm. Lockheed Martin's missile defense systems have achieved more than 40 successful ballistic missile intercepts in tests since the 1980s.

Meanwhile, an Indian defense industry source has speculated that Lockheed Martin could be pushing for closer ties with India's military to increase its chances in winning a $10-billion tender on the delivery of 126 fighters for the Indian Air Force.

Principal bidders include Lockheed Martin's F-16, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Russian Mig-35, the French Dassault Rafale, the Swedish Gripen, and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

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