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Pentagon briefs Delhi on Patriot

New Delhi, Sept. 9: A team from the US military headquarters at Pentagon has briefed the Indian defence establishment on Patriot III missiles, F-16 and F-18 fighter aircraft and begun talks to lease maritime surveillance aircraft P3C Orion to the Indian Navy.

Lt General Jeffrey Kohler, the head of the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency who is leading the team, said this was the first briefing on the Patriot III missile defence system. A briefing on Patriot II was held in February.

Such presentations ' largely classified information on their capabilities and operational use ' have been made by the US to about 10 countries. On Patriot III, the presentations focused on its capabilities to thwart attacks from weapons of mass destruction.

“It is part of our commitment to develop a strategic partnership with India,” Kohler said today.

On F-16s and F-18s, the presentations illustrated how capable the aircraft were of flying back to base even after being attacked. In one instance, an F-18 flew back to base even after taking a missile hit that tore off the aircraft’s canopy.

More briefings on the F-16 by the US Air Force and on the F-18 by the US Navy will be held in October. The US Navy will be exercising with the Indian Navy in October with its carrier USS Nimitz that will have F-18s on board. In November, the US Air Force is to exercise with the IAF.

P3C Orions and the E2 Hawkeye would also be fielded by the US Navy in the 2005 edition of the Malabar series of exercises in October.

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