Friday, February 25, 2011
With Typhoon, India gets tech, freedom to act
Mr Andrew Gallagher, CEO-MD of BAE Systems India, says India should avoid American and buy the Eurofighter Typhoon to reap both capability and strategic benefits. Excerpts from an interview.
The Typhoon is the ‘youngest’ aircraft in the MMRCA competition. The flip side is that it’s still a work-in-progress…
If you buy an F-16, you know what you are getting — a 1970’s product. If you go for the Typhoon, it’s been in service for six years with the Eurofighter air forces, you are getting the best platform available today, and the opportunity to upgrade it.
What do we gain in politico-strategic terms from buying European?
The Typhoon purchase will promote a couple of things. One, India’s stated ambition to develop an indigenous defence capability, in particular in this area because the Eurofighter consortium, with the full support of the governments of Germany, UK, Italy and Spain, will deliver the technology transfer commitments and the know-how, not just the source code and the paperwork. We won’t find ourselves caught up in a bureaucratic nightmare, which perhaps will happen in the case of another country, in terms of the ability to transfer technology, which will allow India a degree of sovereignty which it would not otherwise have.
With the US, you are still in CISMOA discussions, and other technology cooperation discussions that are yet to be resolved. Moreover, India has already bought the P-8I, the C-130J, it’s buying the C-17, how many more deals do the Americans want? The law of diminishing returns begins to kick in somewhere. For us, India will be buying 126 Typhoons. Money talks. India will be a key partner going forward and it will develop the aircraft according to its own needs.
Eurofighter nations build military capability in the belief that they will go to war only in coalitions, not alone. Is there a conceptual issue here with regard to the Typhoon, because India has to fight its wars alone?
What we will do is to provide India the capability to develop the aircraft to its own requirements. So, if that means that India thinks it is going to go to war on its own with its neighbours or other nations, under our obligations in the deal, we will work with India to develop the aircraft in the way that it needs. And we will also ensure that if there’s any degree of interdependence, India will have access to the support and capability that it needs to ensure its legitimate national security interests, whatever they are.
Is there US technology in the Typhoon, and will it be difficult getting unrestricted access to it?
It’s not impossible on occasion. But, in principle, if India buys the Typhoon, the relationship with India is such that whilst there may be a problem from time to time, any technology transfer which requires US approvals will come through.
I mean, BAE Systems has 45,000 employees in America, we are the fifth biggest supplier to the Pentagon. So, the US absolutely knows where its interest lies, and I have no doubt whatsoever, provided we behave responsibly, the US will step up and do the right thing.