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Gates Butters Up India for U.S. Guns

The Defense Secretary is helping to broker deals with stateside weapons manufacturers so the U.S. can supplant Russia as India's top arms source
While rumors of the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk being transferred to India were just that, India's need for aircraft carriers is not.
While rumors of the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk being transferred to India were just that, India's need for aircraft carriers is not. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is on a sales mission to India. Apart from the big-ticket military hardware the U.S. hopes to sell its close friend and ally as part of the secretary's two-day visit, Western defense contractors are keen to develop India as a long-term customer and hope to wean the country from its long-term weapons supplier, Russia.

Gates' Feb. 26-27 trip comes less than two weeks after the four-day Defense Expo 2008 which concluded in New Delhi on Feb 19. Hawking their wares there were almost all the big, global weapons players: Raytheon, Boeing, Sweden's Saab, France's Dassault, Britain's BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and many arms dealers from Israel. Gates' visit also occurs close to India's Mar. 3 internal deadline to consider bids worth $10.2 billion for 125 new fighter jets.