Indian media is reporting that the Indian Air Force has asked Lockheed Martin to brief it on the capabilities of the F-35. Yet it’s not clear if this is true, or even whether an F-35 is on the horizon.

“The IAF top brass is formally requesting for a classified briefing by the F-35’s prime builder, Lockheed Martin, on the capabilities of the sophisticated, fifth-generation fighter developed under the US Joint Strike Fighter program,” claims the Indian publication Business Standard.

Lockheed Martin directed questions about this to the U.S. government. The U.S. Department of Defense’s F-35 Joint Program Office told The National Interest that it was unaware of any request for a briefing by the Indian government. Had the request been made, it seems likely the Joint Program Office—the hub of the F-35 project—would have been aware.

If the reports aren’t true, it wouldn’t be the first time—Indian media claimed in January that Lockheed Martin had proposed manufacturing the F-35 in India.

“However, it appears that the story was the result of confusion between discussion on the F-35 and the company’s [Lockheed Martin’s] well-publicised bid to move its F-16 line to India,” reported Defense News.

So is India genuinely interested in acquiring an American stealth fighter? “I doubt an F-35 purchase would happen soon for a number of reasons,” says Timothy Hoyt, who co-chairs the U.S. Naval War College’s Indian Ocean Regional Studies Group.

While it’s natural for India to be curious about a prominent combat aircraft like the F-35, which a dozen U.S. allies have already committed to buy, an Indian purchase would face numerous domestic obstacles.

Long a customer of Soviet and Russian arms, recently India has been buying American, including Apache and Chinook helicopters, howitzers and discussions are underway for acquiring drones. India remains cautious about relying on Washington for weaponry, given that the United States has long been a patron of its arch-nemesis Pakistan (a ticklish situation for Washington as well).

India also has made efforts—albeit scandal-plagued—to develop indigenous major weapons such as the Arjun tank. India’s Defense Research and Development Organization would likely “promise it can deliver an equivalent system in an unreasonably short time frame,” Hoyt says. “If that doesn’t kill the deal, there will be very strong voices insisting on licensed production in India with technology transfer, as well as demands for offsets on any deal.”

To afford the F-35, New Delhi would have to boost defense spending, which might raise a furor given that even American critics have blasted the Lightning II over a price tag that’s almost $100 million per plane. Even if a purchase were approved, “India’s procurement process is abysmally slow,” says Hoyt.

“Despite all of the publicity given to the Medium Range Combat Aircraft acquisition about a decade ago, that decision has never been fully implemented.”

Read the full article here.


  1. Indian defence procurement has always been strange affair.

    Why wouldn’t the IAF want to buy the F35 if the USA where prepared to sell it? Cannot think of one reason why not.

    Given their high level of defence spending money should not be a problem.

  2. Of course they are ‘interested’. They are ‘interested’ in anything that makes India look modern, powerful and rich. But when you look under the bullcrap you see a country with millions of its citizens in utter poverty, perilously low wages, hazardous working conditions, without decent sanitary systems let alone health care. And a country we STILL give £200 Mn a year to in ‘Foreign Aid’. If they can run a nuclear deterrent and a space programme what the hell are we doing giving ‘Foreign Aid’?

    India is the place that disproves the idea that our ‘Foreign Aid’ gives us commercial or other advantages with the receiving country. We get ZILCH from the Indians as the recent Rafale orders proved.

    To put this into perspective our ‘Foreign Aid’ pays for two brand new fully equipped F-35As every year for India …..


  3. I’m not into post imperial guilt as you can’t judge the pasted by modern views, just learn from the actions.

    But I do believe in paying our debts both implicit and explicit, I also believe in social justice. There are two nations the UK owes skin to, that’s the US (for the Cold War) and India ( for the number of Indians who died in defence of the British empire, the wealth and power India provided to the British empire).

    Do I think a bit of international aid valences the books, nope but it helps.

    • Yes, I think we should also ask the French & Germans to repay their debts to us, for a 1000yrs of hurt and just generally being a pain in the arse…


    • Sorry but that is total and utter drivel. Yes the whole of Europe does in fact owe the US a debt of gratitude for it’s efforts in and post WW2, but your thought process on India is seriously flawed. India, and it’s people benefited on the most part for the historic connection with the UK. If we were to go along with your line of debate then every country in the world will have some justification/reasoning to have a debt with another. Where does it stop?

    • Jonathon, don’t you think we owe Russia a MASSIVE debt of thanks for the key role they played in defeating the Nazis ? Noone suffered more than them or inflicted so many defeats of the Germans and their axis partners in Europe.

      • And then shouldn’t we be grateful for the Poles for stopping the Red army in 1920 and the Catholic Austro-Polish alliance that repulsed the Ottoman empire are the gates of Vienna 1683.

        Both of these stands against enormous odds stopped the fall of Europe, initially to the Ottomans and then the Soviets. They were totally instrumental in our conception of modern Europe and both of them little known in the West.

        • Absolutely so on this side or Europe we really are out of touch with those realities.

          As for owing the US that is beyond a joke. Had we not stayed in the War in 1940 when logic said to come to an agreement the World thereafter would have been ‘owned’ either by the USSR or Nazi Germany, the US would be but a peripheral power at best. Of course that is actually best case for them, for had of course Germany who were 2 years ahead in nuclear weapons in 1938 not had their efforts seriously affected by British actions (and Hitlers decision the war would be over before they became suable) plus the delay in such weapon development by a neutral US that were originally based on British work in Canada anyway then the likely scenario was that Germany by 1947 still very much in or winner of the war, would have had those weapons and the means to hit the US with them while totally outclassing them in tech generally. If they had already lost then acquired technology by the Soviet Union from them would have put them in that game years earlier with half the World under their control. The US of course even if they got nuclear weapons in such a scenario and even if first (very unlikely) they could not have delivered them in the way Germany (or German teched USSR) could have. None of this is a given but by far the most likely scenario in say 1947/8.

          Then there is the economic bonus to the US. Their whole post war economic miracle was based on profiting from the war, no effective opposing economic powers as the result of the war to compete and free technology from Britain and Germany that was a massive boost to their post war boom. Then again Britain surrendered a massive proportion of its investment in the US (including their half of Ford UK for example) which at its peak underpinned up to a third of that countries pre war economic value. And then there was the fact that despite Britains role in creating the Great US miracle (to its own cost) it still had to pay off lend lease until relatively recently. So far from Britain owing the US a debt it is the US who has a debt to pay to this country which amongst the more enlightened Americans is probably why Churchill is held in such high esteem there. But for him they would not be half the nation they are now and very possibly an impotent lacky of another giant power elsewhere.

      • Steven,
        Yes the Russians did stop the Nazis war machine . However if we are going to quote history we also have to admit that Russia allowed the Nazis to train and develop their military when they were banned from doing so, that a fortnight after Hitler invaded Poland, Stalin did like wise and between them they carved up Poland. Finally Hitler secure in the knowledge that Stalin had his back invaded the Low Countries and France in 1940.

        The way I see it, Russia was part of the problem for the slide into WW2

        • I do agree with that but there is an argument (certainly from Russia) that at least in part that agreement was due to Britain/France refusing to commit to an alliance with them. To be honest I can understand why we didn’t (after all Stalin and Hitler were evil twins indeed pre war probably the former looked the worse) but it did have the effect of them playing for time themselves in that way… and to their own benefit of course or so they thought.

          Decisions are always a fine line, Hitler has been condemned by Historians as a fool for declaring war on the US but at the time it probably looked like genius to Germany in getting Japan to attack the US keeping them occupied while giving Germany freedom to conclude war in Europe while feeling free to attack US shipping to help achieve that. Perhaps he should have done all that up to the point of declaring war and selling them out in which case the US would not have declared war on Germany at least for some time. Of course to sell out Japan would have had its own own unpredictable consequences perhaps and he underestimated Roosevelt’s commitment to sort out Europe first rather than the initial aggressor. All ifs and buts.

      • Seconded. Too many in the West are educated by Hollywood movies and have little idea of what Russia went through in the Great Patriotic War.

    • What exactly do we owe the US ? For the First world war ? Zimmerman telegram. The Second world war ? Pearl Harbour. Little quiz question for you. When have the US EVER fought with on the same side as us by choice ? They’ve certainly fought against us at least once and came within an inch of doing so on half a dozen occasions.

      • David,
        The US fought on the side of the allies on the run up to WW2. Look up the sinking of the USS Reuben James in Oct 1941 before the US was dragged fully into the war,

        • Depends what you call fighting on the side of. The President wanted to true but the people and most of his advisors and military did not. Help was patchy and at great cost too with some arms yes though mostly negotiated with US companies and indeed moral support as far as the President could, but its a country who’s single largest community actually has German origins and at that time much of it was strongly anti British even in the establishment. Equally Ford and General Motors amongst others were giving massive support to the German military which has always been kept quiet of course. The country profited on a massive scale from the war and was doing so before it actually entered. That said decent Americans role in fighting for Britain should be honoured but had the US played an active role pre war particularly in the League of Nations (which they didn’t bother to join) in standing up to a country so many of them actually admired rather than turn away, the war could have been prevented. The American Ambassador to Britain for one (I think we know who that was) and who was quietly repatriated for effectively acting as a German spy shows just how in conflict US society was. Only the BoB began to turn the tide of support, if slowly.

          We also forget that the US/UK were not on great terms pre war and during the thirties there were even plans for the US navy to attack British ports believe it or not, things had deteriorated so badly over various political disagreements. Not sure how that would have worked out but thankfully never materialised.

  4. Would the US sell it to them full spec? How long before the Russians and Chinese then get their mitts on it?

  5. Im surprised the USA is selling them to the UK, with so many Russians on the street how could they be safe from prying eyes or worse (read Buzzfeed article, not that its got thatch credibility, about US saying 14 people killed by Russians in the Uk)

  6. Steven, as I said, “not that its got much credibility. ” However, the article got my attention and I was aware of the source I was reading and its so called reputation.” I don’t know how fake it was.

  7. I think the suggestion we owe the USA is pretty far fetched and some context needs to be appreciated. We paid for everything in cash / gold on FOB terms before 1942 when Lend / Lease kicked in. (Yes I know it was enacted in late ’41 but it takes time to build and ship stuff). This means everything that ended up in the Atlantic was ours, paid for, not American. And who benefited from all this expenditure? Companies like Packard who built Merlin engine and earned some £130 Mn to start with (£1.98 Bn today). And North American who got paid to build the Mustang on the back of a UK design specification and UK money (the rest is history). That is just two. And lets also remember companies like Ford who refused to do a damn thing to help us while happily helping the Nazis.

    We should then remember three things right after WWII ended:
    – while Lend / Lease ships were at sea the US overnight (21st August 1945) changed the terms to from lend / Lease to ‘Sale’ and created a loan agreement for all amounts outstanding. Not that we agreed to the terms of course. It was just given to us de facto.
    – The terms of that enforced loan agreement referred to the UK’s ‘convertibility’ of Sterling and in 1947 the US carried out the biggest foreign currency raid seen at the time. By using ‘convertibility’ and UK Sterling’s vulnerability our dollar debt was almost doubled when the USA forced the Pound Sterling to be devalued in 1949.
    – The UK, having been the only country to fight in all theatres for all of the 6 years of WWII, had huge external debts (due to war materiel imports) and a balance of payments problem as it had been geared to domestic production (55% at the time). This exposed the UK to aggressive financial moves and the only power able to make those moves at the time was the USA. All while it was busily rebuilding Germany which had also been excused most of its own external debt (by the USA).

    And what seems to have been forgotten in this discussion is the massive benefits passed to the Americans absolutely free during the Tizard Missions of ’41 and ’42. Basically we gave them:
    Jet engines (and how much was that of benefit to General Electric and P & W alone?)
    Plastic explosives
    Self sealing fuel tanks
    Advanced Sonar
    Proximity fuses
    Nuclear Fission
    And of course Magnetron radar.
    At least someone realised the value of the Magnetron when James Phinney Baxter III, Official Historian of the Office of Scientific Research and Development said:
    “When the members of the Tizard Mission brought one Cavity Magnetron to America in 1940, they carried the most valuable cargo ever brought to our shores”

    And lets recall that despite all this free technology the Americans refused to give us Norden bombsights! So we developed our own better systems and then happily gave it all away to Sperry in the USA ….. #FacePalm

    So no we do not owe the Americans anything other than mutual respect for the sacrifices their guys made to liberate Europe. They of course did nothing to liberate the UK as we were never invaded. Something they don’t seem to realise even now …

    • Excellent post.

      I believe early versions of Stealth material were also handed over on a plate.

      Rockets? They just used Nazis for that.

    • Chris that is a great post. All I can add is whilst the Russians can rightly say they took the brunt of the German onslaught and the US provided huge manpower and material to ultimately tip the balance. It was the British Empire with limited Free Forces alone that stood its ground for a year for the good of mankind and the civilised world when both these nations largely stood by as spectators.
      It is also fair to say the US did its utmost to undermine and hasten the end of empire up to the late 1950s only to realise later that it had been a rather benign influence. By this time Britain was no longer a rival but had important historic links across large areas of the globe including the Middle East.
      When much of this was removed in a very short period the US found itself fighting a cold war in many parts of the world that had been reasonably peaceful.

    • As Daniels said, an excellent post. I have had many a conversation with American friends when they say that they ‘saved’ us. I simply pointed out to them that them sahing they saved us is like a Gun merchant claiming he saved a man’s life by selling him a Gun he later uses to defend himself with. In other words stop taking the piss.

      Another thing to add on top of the Trizard mission is that all those technologies we just handed over to the Americans they then used to make uncounted billions after the war. Of course we could have also done so but our entire focus was on rebuilding the nation whilst American factories were at full steam ahead, intact with a buyout public behind them, not an exhausted, near bombed out people like the British.

  8. Ah yes, the Indian media. Paragons of reliability and honesty. Anyone remember the time that Indian air force squadron came to the UK to do excersises with the RAF, left and the minute they got home the Indian media was crowing that they had ‘beaten’ the RAF In a simulated war game that never took place?

    Yeah, I’d trust an internet troll over the Indian press any day.

  9. Indian F35s equipped with Brahmos missiles? I’m not entirely comfortable with that prospect given their close ties with Moscow.

  10. The Romans may of been a brutal occupying power in Britain for some 300 years, but they left their mark that remains to this day. The Brits did the same for India! India only ordered the Rafale over the Typhoon because they received a slightly better deal.


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