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Britain warns India against selling aircraft to Myanmar

Tuesday 31 January 2006

Special Correspondent

Offer will hit plan to replace fighters on INS Viraat

EU guidelines can have "lock-on effect" No resale clause: Ministry sources Second hurdle after Pokhran tests

NEW DELHI: British High Commissioner Michael Arthur on Monday said India’s sale of aircraft to Myanmar could impact its Navy’s plan to replace fighters on the aircraft carrier INS Viraat and supply of spares for helicopters.

"There are European Union guidelines on dealing with Myanmar. That can have some lock-on effect on our ability to supply spares to the rest of the fleet,’’ he told newspersons at a seminar on Indo-U.K. defence industry here.

Government informed

The British High Commission has already written to the Indian Government, asking it not to go ahead with the offer made by Chief of the Naval Staff Arun Prakash to sell BN-2 Islander aircraft to Myanmar.

Sources in the Defence Ministry point out that there was no resale clause in the contract signed with Britten-Norman when India bought the planes about two decades ago. Myanmar wants to use the aircraft for maritime surveillance and aerial ambulance missions.

This is the second time in eight years the United Kingdom is putting a hurdle to the supply of badly needed helicopter spares.

It detained some Indian Navy helicopters after the Pokhran tests in 1998, in response to the U.S. sanctions. The helicopters, which contained American spares, were also denied refurbishment.

Subsequently when India signed the multibillion-dollar deal for advanced jet trainers, it ensured that the aircraft did not contain any American spares.

While cautioning India about turbulence in bilateral ties with the U.K., Sir Michael said military-to-military relations in other areas would continue apace.

RAF to practise with Indian counterparts

The Royal Air Force would practise with its Indian counterparts at the year-end and a Royal Navy aircraft carrier group would make an appearance at Indian ports in a few months.

British firms holding talks

Senior British Defence Ministry officials present at the seminar said British companies were holding talks with the three services for a variety of products including helicopters, artillery systems and mine counter-measure systems.

See online : The Hindu

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