Washington: Asserting that the US offered the highest level of technology to India for its fighter jets, a top Pentagon official expressed his disappointment on New Delhi's decision not to opt for those but added that India US relationship is not predicated on any one sale.
   
"I was really amazed and impressed with the level of technology we had agreed to release to India in these fighter aircrafts. This is the level of technology we had not looked to release anywhere," Robert Scher, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast said.
   
He expressed hope that the experience gained from bidding process of fighter jets would help the US companies to get more business from India in the future.
     
"(India's decision) surprised many people on both sides," he said in response to a question after delivering his remarks on India-US defense relationship organized by New American Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.”
   
"I am absolutely disappointed. But understanding that how these sales fit within our overall strategy and the value of this relationship, I think we would continue to work from and subsequent sales are frankly easier because the work we did with very high profiled sale upfront," he said.
   
However, Scher said India-US relationship was not predicated on any one sale.
   
"Although military sales are deeply intertwined with defense co-operation, they are not the only indicator or marker of our success. I view defense sales as a mechanism to enable new training and exchange opportunities between our militaries," he said.
   
"We are also now enabling new levels of technology transfer through our defense sales. And importantly, there is an economic aspect to these sales, which supports the bottom line for US industry and in many cases, helps lead to job creation," he said.

Noting that in 1990s, India and the US had virtually no defense trade relationship, he said "today it is nearing USD 6 billion in Foreign Military Sales alone, not counting Direct Commercial Sales."
   
It's clear that the Indian military of the future will routinely use US equipment, in all services, across a full range of mission sets," he said.
   
"In February, I had the honor of attending the C-130J induction ceremony at Air Force station Hindon with the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, General Schwartz.

The C-130J is the first US military aircraft to have been delivered to India in half-a-century and I am especially proud of our "on-budget and on-time" delivery, a resounding message to the Indians that the US is a reliable and trusted defense partner," Scher said.

But this isn't just about a platform, he noted.
   
Along with the aircraft, the US Air Force trained more than 100 Indian Air Force personnel – including pilots, loadmasters, and maintenance staff.
   
The Rhode Island Air National Guard also sent training teams to India on two separate occasions to assist with the establishment of the Indian squadron and plans to return to India in the future for follow-up.
   
These interactions are as valuable as the top-of-the line aircraft that was delivered, he said.
   
Referring to the completion of the C-17 deal, he said once the contract is fulfilled, India would operate the second largest fleet of C-17s in the world.

"This fundamentally changes the way India can think about its forces and its reach," he said.
   
One of the early success stories was the transfer of the USS Trenton to become the INS Jalashwa.
   
Several hundred Indian sailors spent more than nine months at Norfolk in Virginia for the transition of the ship, which enabled unprecedented levels of interaction and relationship-building between our two navies, he said.
   
The Pentagon is also looking to build on its defense trade with the Indian Army including their decision regarding the purchase of the M777 light weight howitzer which completed firing trials in India this past winter.
   
"We will continue to work with India to identify opportunities to provide technology and equipment to fulfill India's defense needs. The US is and will continue to be a reliable defense supplier to India," he said.

"These examples also show the deep levels of service-to-service cooperation that are enabled by defense sales. Not only do Indian personnel have the opportunity to train at US bases and interact with US personnel, but sales like these also provide opportunities for us to refine and share our tactics, techniques, and procedures and to gain further operational trust and understanding. This ultimately increases the ability of our forces to work together more seamlessly over time," Scher said.