April 10, 2005


Boeing set to grab $6-bn A-I pie (BYAS ANAND, APRIL 11, 2005, India TIMES NEWS NETWORK)

This would, probably, be the biggest corporate victory for the US in India. State-owned behemoth Air-India is planning to award its over $6 billion mega order for purchasing 50 aircraft to the US-based aircraft-maker Boeing.

Together with its low-cost start-up A-I Express — which has already selected Boeing for its comparatively smaller $1-billion order for 18 planes, this would make the biggest order bagged by any single aircraft manufacturer in recent times.

If the Cabinet clears the order, it will be the strongest message yet to the US that India is willing to play hard for great power stakes. Washington’s recent avowals to enable India become a great power in the 21st century have strong economic underpinnings, and for the first time, India is in a position to leverage its economic clout for strategic ends.

Just as the F-16 deal would enhance India’s larger strategic goals with the US, the civilian aircraft order would be a strong political statement.

The right stuff: F-16s to Pakistan is wise decision (William B. Milam and Sarmila Bose, 4/11/05, CS Monitor)

The negative chorus that has greeted the American decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan is off-key. From the criticism, it is clear that the importance of Pakistan to the long-term interests of the US, the West, and - perhaps less obviously - India, is still poorly understood.

Most observers assume that the decision was motivated by the US need for Pakistani cooperation in the war on terror. Critics emphasize that Pakistan remains a military government with a democratic facade, and that it hasn't been fully cooperative on other issues (notably A.Q. Khan and his nuclear proliferation network). We think America's longer-term interests in the region argue strongly for supporting the decision. Those interests start with Pakistan's geo-strategic and political importance. The second most populous Islamic country, situated next to democratic India, it is also a neighbor of Afghanistan and a gateway to Central Asia.

While we remain disappointed at the halting progress Pakistan has made toward democracy, we do know that it has been there before (albeit unsuccessfully), and probably has a better chance of getting there again in the next decade than many of the Islamic countries of the Middle East that have yet to make a first try.

As a stable Islamic democracy of 150 million people, Pakistan would be a political model in the Muslim world. However, a real democracy requires evolution toward a more "modern" society and the "enlightened moderation" that President Pervez Musharraf continues to advocate. On this, the president needs US help, too - on social development such as improving education and health, and on the political front to head off the religious parties seeking his removal because of his moderation and his cooperation on the war on terror.

A democratic, moderate, and modern Pakistan would be a better neighbor for India, one able to transform - if India were willing - the age-old hostile relationship into something mutually constructive.

Critics may well ask, "Can't we bring this about without selling F-16s to Pakistan?" The answer probably is no, given the history of the US-Pakistani relationship, and the doubts that many Pakistanis harbor about American willingness and ability to sustain a relationship.

This is precisely why the sale of the F-16s is the sort of measure that serves US interests.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 10, 2005 7:30 PM

I know next to nothing about F planes. Is the F16 obsolete?

Posted by: h-man at April 10, 2005 8:23 PM

The basic design has been around since the 1970's, but the F-16 remains very much a front-line fighter ... perhaps the best dogfighter ever. There are newer and far more expensive fighters in the late stages of development now.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 10, 2005 9:22 PM

the real signifigance is the production line (for F-16's) that india will be getting.

Posted by: cjm at April 10, 2005 9:50 PM

I also recal that it matters what "avionics package" the plane included. The airframe + engines are kind of the hardware; the rest (including armament) is the software.

But getting back to the subject: a great win Boeing owes to W's/Condi's clumsy diplomacy...

Posted by: Moe from NC at April 10, 2005 9:52 PM

Which Japan and Israel already have, if I'm not mistaken.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 10, 2005 9:54 PM

Anyone with clue realizes that maintenance and pilot expertise will matter far more than the airframes in use. The reality is that Indian pilots in F16s will smoke Pakistani pilots in F16s, even presuming the Pakistani ones make it in to the air and the missiles launch.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 10, 2005 10:24 PM

It's getting to the end of its string. The real key to the F16 and F15's longevity was engine development: GE and Pratt & Whitney managed to increase the thrust from the F100-F110 series engine core from 23,000 lbs with afterburner lit in the initial version to a little over 30,000 in the latest. The price you pay for that is fuel consumption and maintenance, since you're running the same size motor a lot hotter. The F16 has also gotten a lot heavier, as all fighters tend to do, but it doesn't have much more room for that since it's got such a small wing. They don't call them Lawn Darts for no reason.

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 10, 2005 11:56 PM

Sounds ok, I suppose, if the whole idea was to promote the Boeing sale. And I suppose one can always count on Pakistani pilots being well, Pakistani pilots.

(But what happens if they are in fact, better than one thinks?)

Anyway, I stopped reading at the point where I was reassured by the authors that Pakistan is "a stable Islamic democracy."

Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 11, 2005 2:21 AM

Just a note the advanced versions of the GE 110 and PW 229 not only have increased thrust but are much more advanced than the orfingnal -100 engines
FFuel consumtiom is about the same and maintenance has actual decresed due to extended cycle cores and Digital fuel control

Posted by: wild bill at April 11, 2005 2:29 AM

We could send 5000 F-16s to Pakistan and India would still whip them. Pakistan v. India is like Canada v. US.

Posted by: Bob at April 11, 2005 12:02 PM

Bad analogy, Bob. There's nothing wrong with Canadian pilots. Just the gov't won't let them fight.

Posted by: Slider at April 11, 2005 11:25 PM
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