Appreciating India's efforts at fighting terrorism and promoting peace in Afghanistan, US Senator Dana Rohrabacher Wednesday said India is America's key ally in the fight against global terrorism.
"India is USA's key ally in the fight against global terrorism. We support and welcome India's steps in providing vital services in Afghanistan, for the stability of that country and the entire region," Rohrabacher, who represents 46th District of the state of California, told IANS.
According to Rohrabacher, both India and the US have realized the mutual benefit of their cooperation in areas such as security and counter-terrorism and that this trend will strengthen over time.
"We (India and US) were not allies because of the Cold War. The Cold War ended 20 years ago and now there is an apparent shift of power to the east. India and US's cooperation will grow further," he said.
The senator spoke to IANS on the margins of a ceremony for assembling the first of the 10 heavy-lift military aircraft manufactured by aerospace giant Boeing to the Indian Air Force. The ceremony was held here at the Long Beach facility of the US company.
Called the "major join" ceremony, it entailed riveting the aircraft's fuselage with other parts like wings and the cargo hull. The ceremony was attended by top officials from the Indian missions and the Indian Air Force, as also and US politicians who drove ceremonial rivets into the C-17.
In June last year, India's defence ministry signed an agreement with the US government to acquire 10 C-17 airlifters under the US government's foreign military sales provisions. The first aircraft is expected to join the Indian Air Force by mid 2013.
Rohrabacher said the sale of military platforms like C-17 will help India to protect against the threat of terrorism.
His views were shared by India's Counsul General in San Francisco N. Parthasarathi, who said growing defence ties between India and the US were an indication of the depth of the mutual understanding achieved by the two countries.
"Ten years ago, no one could have imagined we will reach to this level of cooperation. Believe it's a start and this relationship has a lot of potential," Parthasarathi told IANS. "This aircraft will be a great asset to India. I expect more cooperation."
The first aircraft is expected to land in India by mid-2013. Currently, 20 pilots and 10 load masters are undergoing training in Oklahoma. The heavy airlifter C-17 is said to be a strategic acquisition of the Indian Air Force, which currently uses Russian IL-76s and AN-32s.
The aircraft is said to have strategic capabilities -- like to land at unprepared sand runway with just 3,000 feet of clearance. It can achieve the mark even with 74,797 kg. The aircraft can carry heavy equipment like tanks, choppers or paratroopers.
The aircraft is powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW2040 series turbofan engines that allow the Cs-17 to cover 2,420 nautical miles with heavy loads. In recent years, India and the US have increased their cooperation in the aerospace sector immensely with India placing an order for eight maritime petrol aircraft P8I and the C-17S.
By Rohit Vaid Long Beach (California), Aug 1 (Agency)