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India could become new Hub for F-16 Fighter Jets

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies a mission in the skies near Iraq on March 22. The F-16s are from the 35th Fighter Wing "Wild Weasels", Misawa Air Base, Japan.

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM — An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies a mission in the skies near Iraq on March 22. The F-16s are from the 35th Fighter Wing “Wild Weasels”, Misawa Air Base, Japan.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Lockheed Martin Co. have offered to shift all manufacturing of the F-16 fighter jet to India, it’s something that comes with an added advantage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi: a strategic win against Pakistan, a formidable nuclear rival to the country.

The proposal would additionally give India partial control along with the U.S. of which countries would be allowed to purchase the jet, according to a report from BloombergShould that be the case, Modi would be able to choke key supplies to Pakistan, which has relied on F-16s as its main aerial defense for decades, if the U.S. allows it do so.

“Some components may be produced only in India,” Abhay Paranjape, director of business development at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said in an interview.

Attempts to clear up direction on what powers Modi may or may not have if the deal was completed ran into the regular bureaucratic red tape, but regardless, the strategic selling point remains a key element of the deal. Especially as Lockheed pushes to win an order that may exceed 100 fighter jets, part of Modi’s plan to spend $150 billion on the armed forces and create jobs under his “Make-in-India” policy. A deal would breathe new life into the F-16, an older model than the stealth F-35 warplane, and further boost U.S.-India defense ties at the expense of Pakistan.

“What we are doing is putting India as the center of the supply base,” Randall Howard, Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics business development director, said. “Today, there is no potential Pakistan sale.”

India and Pakistan have remained enemies ever since Britain’s exit from the region in 1947. Nuclear-armed neighbors, they have fought three wars over disputed territory, and have few economic ties.

Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have soured throughout the years, as well — In May, Congress refused to provide Pakistan with subsidies which would have allowed them to purchase a fleet of new F-16s, which then prompted the nation to consider making their purchases from Jordan. This month, the U.S. withheld another $300 million in military aid money over its failure to take action against terrorists carrying out attacks on American troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Nafees Zakaria, a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry, declined to provide comment on the apparent Lockheed tiff, as did Nungsanglemba Ao, a spokesman for India’s defense ministry.

The lack of support from the U.S. has lead many to believe Pakistan will turn to China and Russia for help in acquiring military hardware, according to Najam Rafique, director at Islamabad’s Institute of Strategic Studies.

“Pakistan is diversifying its options,” he said.

Meanwhile, the competition for the India jet order is fierce — main rivals to Lockheed, such as Boeing and Saab, are all offering to shift their production facilities to the nation as well. The moves are being made in a bid to replenish the country’s aging fleet of military jets, about a third of the nation’s 650 planes are more than 40 years old and set to retire in the next decade.

Last year, Modi scaled back negotiations with Dassault Aviation SA, opting to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets off the shelf instead of building 126 in India after negotiations hit repeated delays.

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India agrees to supply Hydroxychloroquine to U.S.

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Hydroxychloroquine

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — India confirmed they will fulfill the order the U.S. made for hydroxychloroquine, just a couple of days after they banned all exports of the malaria treatment without exception. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi spoke about keeping the supply chain intact over the weekend. And India says the U.S. purchase was approved before President Trump said there would be ‘retaliation’ if the drug was not released, medicine that is being used to treat coronavirus patients without definitive evidence it works. India says they have enough hydroxychloroquine stock for its people today, but reserves the right to hold back the supply if their COVID-19 caseload increases.

One day after he defended firing Captain Brett Crozier from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt by calling him “stupid,” Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned. Modly was severely criticized for firing Crozier, after the captain wrote an alarming letter seeking faster assistance for his sailors exposed to COVID-19 on board, a letter that was leaked to the press.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump calls on Modi to supply Hydroxychloroquine

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Trump

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — President Trump spoke to Prime Minister Modi over the weekend about how the two nations would combat the coronavirus, with a focus on ensuring the supply chain for pharmaceuticals and medical goods continues. But at a press conference, when informed India had banned the export of the drug hydroxychloroquine “without any exceptions,” Trump threatened retaliation. Hydroxychloroquine is typically used to treat malaria, but some COVID-19 patients have found it helpful. And the President has been touting it during his press conferences, without a clinical trial proving if it is indeed effective. India provides nearly half of America’s supply of the medicine. It is not clear whether India’s ban would apply to orders already placed.

Prime Minister Modi called on his nation to unite in the battle against COVID-19 by lighting diyas for 9 minutes at 9 pm Sunday night. Millions of people around India took part, which is now entering its third week of being mandated to stay at home to stop the spread of the virus.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump tells India to supply hydroxychloroquine or face ‘retaliation’

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Trump

During a White House Press briefing, President Trump recounted having a conversation with Indian Prime Minister Modi Sunday morning about the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. When informed by reporters that Modi was unlikely to release to any nation hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria that may be helpful in treating COVID-19, Trump responded in shock, stating that he didn’t like the plan and that he would be surprised if this was the Prime Minister’s decision due to India’s strong economic ties with the United States in the trade sector. Trump stated that this course of action wouldn’t be consequence free, and that there may be retaliation in response. 

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