India's Path to Greatness
After decades of dormancy, India has blossomed into one of Asia’s two emerging powers and an important strategic partner of the United States. How—and whether—it navigates its rise could well determine the future of the whole region.
When the U.S. Air Force sent its proud F-15 fighter pilots against the Indian Air Force in the Cope India war games two years ago, it received a shock. The American pilots found themselves technologically outmatched by nimbler warplanes; tactically outsmarted by the Indian mix of high, low, and converging attack waves; and outfought by the Indians, whose highly trained pilots average more than 180 flying hours a year—roughly the same as their U.S. and Israeli counterparts and slightly more than those of NATO allies such as France and Germany. U.S. general Hal Hornburg said that the results of the exercise, against Indian pilots flying Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30 and French Mirage 2000 fighters, were “a wake-up call.” According to testimony in a House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing, the U.S. F-15s were defeated more than 90 percent of the time in direct combat exercises against the Indians.
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Martin Walker is the editor of United Press International and a senior scholar at the Wilson Center. His most recent books are America Reborn: A Twentieth-Century Narrative in Twenty-Six Lives (2000) and the novel The Caves of Périgord (2002).more from this author >>