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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
India briefed on Patriot missile
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

The PAC-3 system at a Korean military air base in Suwon, south of Seoul
Indian officials learned of the new PAC-3 anti-missile system
A high-level US defence team has held detailed classified briefings of Indian officials on the Patriot missile defence system and combat aircraft.

Patriot missiles are used for defence against ballistic or cruise missiles.

The briefing was requested by India, which has been exploring buying the system. Rival Pakistan says that will harm the regional balance of power.

In recent years, defence ties have grown between India and the US, once on opposite sides of the Cold War fence.

A recent report revealed that India was the leading buyer of conventional arms among developing nations in 2004.

Combat planes

Lt Gen Jeffrey B Kohler, director of the Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency, led the briefing team, which also included US air force and navy officials as well as officials from Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The briefing was a follow-up to the commitment between the US and India on missile defence
Lt Gen Jeffrey B Kohler

The US team presented the Patriot Advance Capability 3 missile (PAC 3) to a team of officials from the Indian ministry of defence.

"The PAC 3 system has unique capabilities, particularly against weapons of mass destruction," Lt Gen Kohler told journalists in Delhi.

India is one of about 10 countries to have received such briefings.

Similar presentations were made to the Indian air force and navy on the F-16 and more advanced F/A-18 Hornet combat aircraft and the P3-C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft.

The two sides also held discussions on the possible joint production of military hardware, Gen Kohler said.

Pranab Mukherjee and Donald Rumsfeld
India and the US recently signed a 10-year defence deal

India is looking to buy more than 100 advanced combat aircraft to replace its ageing, Russian-built fleet.

Apart from the US, aircraft from France, Russia and Sweden are being considered.

Defence cooperation between India and the US has intensified in recent months.

The sides have held a series of joint military exercises and F-16 and F/A-18 combat jets are expected to take part in an upcoming air exercise, Cope India, in November.

Earlier this year, India and the US signed a 10-year agreement to strengthen defence ties.

The landmark agreement will help facilitate joint weapons production, co-operation on missile defence and the transfer of technology.

In the past, Pakistan has warned against the sale of US military hardware to India, saying it would lead to an arms race in South Asia.

In February, Pakistani foreign office spokesman, Masood Khan, said a sale of Patriot to India would erode regional deterrence.

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