The US has reportedly offered India its F-18 Super Hornets to boost Indian maritime combat capabilities. The Indian Navy has been looking to acquire 57 naval fighter jets for its aircraft carriers including INS Vikramaditya.
“The American Government has offered to provide their naval fighter aircraft F-18 for the Indian Navy under a government proposal at the meeting between defense delegations of both countries during the 2+2 meetings,” said ANI quoting a government source.
India and Washington recently held US-India 2+2 strategic dialogue to enhance economic and military cooperation between the two countries. The ANI report said that the US government has offered to sell their F-18 fighters along with the unmanned aircraft Sea Guardian to the Indian Navy along with other systems to the Indian armed forces.
While the navy is in the process of assessing the best fit for its combat requirements, Rafales are a hot contender in the race along with F-18 Super Hornets.
Earlier, the maker of F-18, Boeing confirmed that it has been testing the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter jets for the Indian Navy’s requirements of a carrier-based fighter.
The trials were a part of demonstrations for the Indian Navy to demonstrate that the aircraft is fully capable of operating from the ski-jumps of the Indian aircraft carriers, namely the INS Vikramaditya and the in-development INS Vikrant.
“We’ve done a lot of simulation work with the Indian Navy to better understand their requirements and we feel comfortable that the Super Hornet can operate from all their carriers, both the ones fielded today and the ones in the future… We think we can move around the deck, be very mission capable with a relevant weapons load-out and fuel load-out to give the Navy what they need… The Super Hornet as built today can operate from Indian carriers,” Dan Gillian, VP of the Super Hornet program aid in an interview with The Drive.
Earlier, the American fighter jet lost the race to French-made Dassault Rafales for the Indian Air Force (IAF). A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India revealed that the IAF was against buying American fighter jets as “it could face difficulties in case sanctions were imposed by (the) USA”.
However, now with a common adversary, China, India-US ties are at an all-time high. There is a serious possibility that the Indian Navy may consider the American fighters for its combat fleet.