In welcome news for Lockheed Martin and its shareholders, a high-ranking US military official has said the US armed forces support selling the F-35 aircraft to India, a country that has not yet agreed to pay for the expensive jets.
While the extent of New Delhi's interest in acquiring Lockheed Martin's stealthy aircraft is not yet clear, the head of US Pacific Command (US PACOM) nonetheless supports the sale in theory, which is one of the more important preliminary steps for a deal actually happening.
"At the moment, India is considering a number of US systems for purchase, all of which US PACOM fully supports." The systems include F-16s, F/A-18s and MH-60 Seahawks, "and [the] F-35 Joint Strike Fighter," Admiral Harry Harris told the US House Armed Services Committee last month.
The potential sale of fifth-generation aircraft to India has never been publicly mentioned before by US government officials, according to StratPost, an Indian defense news site.
The defense ministers and heads of foreign affairs from India and the US are slated to meet for a 2+2 meeting next month.
Lockheed Martin and the United States are partnered with the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and South Korea in developing the F-35 program.