First came the initial reports that John mentioned yesterday on DT, and now, confirmation: India has eliminated Boeing and Lockheed from its $11 billion fighter competition (as well as Saab, for the record) and has narrowed the field down to two European fighters: The Eurofighter Typhoon and France's Dassault Rafale. The U.S. ambassador to India said he was "deeply disappointed" by the decision, as Reuters reports, and for observers who believed India would use this arms deal to align itself more closely with Washington -- well, that ain't happening. In fact, the same day New Delhi made its announcement, ambassador Timothy Roemer quit his job, the FT reports:
"While Mr Roemer said he was leaving India for personal reasons, as ambassador he had heavily promoted the US bids. In a statement, he said he had 'accomplished all of the strategic objectives set forth two years ago' when he took the job."
Arms diplomacy works in strange ways -- Washington wanted India to buy Super Hornets or F-16s for this competition, but the early impression is that Indian officials wanted newer-model fighter jets, rather than the latest versions of older designs. So on that point, keep in mind that Russia lost, too; India decided not to buy its MiG-35. If Russia was counting on these Indian exports to keep its aerospace sector alive and supply cash to continue developing its next-generation fighter -- well, that ain't happening.
The smart money now seems to be in the Typhoon. People just love those canards.