Flight Global‘s Greg Waldron broke the news out of the Singapore Air Show 2020 last month of the U.S. Government considering an application for an export licence for its F-15 fighter aircraft to India.
Although there is a lot to unpack here in terms of implications (which we will get to in a minute), StratPost can confirm that an export policy approval has been granted in the form of an ITAR-waiver. ITAR stands for International Traffic in Arms Regulations that govern the control of arms exports by the United States.
Separately, F-15 manufacturer Boeing also applied for a DSP-5 licence in the fourth quarter of 2019, which would allow them to market the aircraft to India. Both the ITAR-waiver and the DSP-5 licence allow the sharing of information that is not already in the public domain, for the purpose of marketing. According to the U.S. State Department, ‘The DSP-5 can include hardware, software, or documents and is the mechanism used to obtain a Marketing License for information that is not public domain’.
Finally, StratPost can confirm that representatives of the U.S. government and Boeing have already conducted early conversations on the aircraft with the Indian Air Force (IAF) on their request, under the ITAR-waiver.
The IAF’s interest in the F-15 has emerged from the U.S. Air Force order for an upgraded model of the fighter, the lessons from the air defence battle that followed the Balakote raid and tacit recognition of the distinction between the F-15 and other U.S. fighter aircraft that have been offered to India.
As we know, the Indian Air Force has a contest gathering steam for the acquisition of 114 fighter aircraft. This contest came about after the IAF withdrew its earlier contest for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) and ended up placing an order for 36 Rafale fighters.
Eye-rollingly called MMRCA 2.0, it includes the Russian Sukhoi-35, a relative of the Sukhoi-30MKI currently in service in the IAF, in addition to the MMRCA 6 (Saab Gripen, Lockheed Martin F-21/F-16 Block 70, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and MiG-35).