The US may try to persuade India to abandon its deal with Russia on the procurement of S-400 air defence systems by offering it fifth-generation F-35 jets in addition to its previous offers to sell American "analogues" to the S-400s, The Economic Times reported.
According to the ET, senior industry leaders and US officials have arrived in India without their purpose being specified. The newspaper noted that no official offer has so far been made to New Delhi. The report also indicated that the Indian government had never requested acquiring F-35 warplanes.
Earlier, NDTV reported, citing an anonymous senior State Department official, that Delhi could face problems in its ties with the US if it decides to go through with its S-400 deal with Russia. Namely, the source warned that high-tech defence cooperation between the two nations might be suspended, hinting at the case of Turkey, which could end up without F-35 deliveries from the US over its purchase of S-400 systems.
What is more, NDTV's source said that India would not automatically be exempt from CAATSA sanctions, as some experts have suggested. The anonymous official stressed that the sanctions waivers are not automatic and are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, hinting that New Delhi could be spared.
The US has been pressuring Turkey, a NATO ally, to abandon a similar deal to acquire S-400s from Russia, threatening not only with losing access to F-35 aircraft, but also with expulsion from the alliance. Despite this, Ankara has repeatedly insisted that it will adhere to the deal with Moscow.