U.S. defence manufacturers hope closer ties will boost their own prospects in India, which is one of the world's biggest defence spenders but still has major gaps in its military capabilities.

India has been looking to rebuild its ageing air force and last week Lockheed Martin and Boeing pitched their fighter planes to its defence ministry.

In a statement, Boeing said it was in talks with India about the possibility of making F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft in India.

A Lockheed spokesman said the company also took part in talks last week between India and the United States on fighter jet production opportunities.

Separately, the two countries are negotiating India's request for 40 Predator surveillance drones, officials said, a possible first step towards acquiring the armed version of the unmanned aircraft.

But deeper security cooperation has been tricky, because India has for more than 10 years demurred at signing three "foundational" defence agreements that would streamline military interactions.

India is concerned that the pacts, including the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) that allows the two militaries to access each other's bases, could draw it into an undeclared military alliance with the United States.

Ahead of Carter's trip, an Indian defence source said both sides were eager to conclude the negotiations on the LSA.

"They're actually quite prosaic agreements," said Benjamin Schwartz, until last year the India country director at the Pentagon.

Nonetheless, signing them "would indicate that the Indian government is more willing to work with the U.S., even if it means that they're going to take some political heat," said Schwartz.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Robert Birsel)

British royals bat in Mumbai for poor Indian kids

Britain's Duke and Duchess of Cambridge played a charity cricket match with underprivileged children in Mumbai on Sunday, the first day of a week-long tour of India that will include a trip to the isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton flew into India's financial capital and met children from Magic Bus, Childline and Doorstep - three non-governmental organisations that work with children.

They took an open-top bus tour and played a cricket match with a team from a local cricket academy and kids backed by the three charities.

Kate, in sunglasses and a red, white and blue summer dress, faced a few deliveries from Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. She struck one ball only to be caught out, leading to a lively exchange between William and the fielders.

The royal couple, travelling without children George and Charlotte, were due to attend a Bollywood-inspired charity gala on Sunday night amid speculation that Kate may appear in a sari from a top Indian fashion designer.

William and Kate's tour takes in New Delhi, where they will lunch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a wildlife park in Assam famed for its one-horned rhinos, and Bhutan.

Their tour ends back in India next Saturday at the Taj Mahal, revisiting the scene of a solo - and much photographed - visit in 1992 by William's mother, the late Princess Diana, to the monument to love.

(Reporting by Danish Siddiqui; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Stephen Powell)


U.S. defence secretary visits India on mission to draw militaries closer

U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter began a three-day visit to India on Sunday, seeking to advance a relatively new defence relationship with a country Washington sees as a counterweight to the growing power of China.

In a sign of the importance Carter places on improving defence ties with India, the visit is his second in less than a year, and it kicks off in Goa, the home state of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

For India, closer U.S. defence ties would bring greater access to American technology, and it too has been alarmed by China's naval forays in the Indian Ocean. But India has been historically wary of drawing too near to any one country.

"India's very reluctant to be seen as too close to the United States, but the Pentagon is very bullish on this relationship," said Shane Mason, a research associate at the Stimson Center in Washington.

It is also a favored initiative of Carter, who established a special cell within the Pentagon last year to promote cooperation with India.

"There's no question about where the United States-India relationship is going," Carter said on Friday, at a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "We can control and influence the pace, and I want to do that."

The U.S. military has made clear it would like to do more with India, especially in countering China's moves.

Last month, Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said the United States wanted to expand the naval exercises it held with India each year into joint operations across the Asia-Pacific.

But India, which has never carried out joint patrols with another country, said there were no such plans.

"The Indians are being careful because it's their neighborhood," said a U.S. congressional source familiar with U.S.-India military discussions. "It's been a long-standing Indian policy to deal with China on a bilateral basis."


The Rafale is powered by two M88-2 engines from SNECMA, each providing a thrust of 75kN. The aircraft is equipped for buddy-buddy refuelling with a flight refuelling hose reel and drogue pack.

It is a twin-shaft bypass turbofan engine principally suitable for low-altitude penetration and high-altitude interception missions.

The M88 incorporates the latest technologies such as single-piece bladed compressor disks (blisks), an on-polluting combustion chamber, single-crystal high-pressure turbine blades, powder metallurgy disks, ceramic coatings and composite materials.

The M88 engine comprises a three-stage LP compressor with inlet guide vane, an annular combustion chamber, single-stage cooled HP turbine, single-stage cooled LP turbine, radial A/B chamber, variable-section convergent flap-type nozzle and full authority digital engine control (FADEC).


Rafale is a twin-jet combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and high-accuracy strike or nuclear strike deterrence.

The aircraft were developed for the French Air Force and Navy. The French Air Force and Navy ordered 294 (234 for the air force and 60 for the navy); 82 aircraft had been delivered by the end of 2009.

The cockpit has hands-on throttle and stick control (HOTAS). The cockpit is equipped with a head-up, wide-angle holographic display from Thales Avionique, which provides aircraft control data, mission data and firing cues.

A collimated, multi-image head-level display presents tactical situation and sensor data, and two touch-screen lateral displays show the aircraft system parameters and mission data.

The pilot also has a helmet-mounted sight and display. A CCD camera and on-board recorder records the image of the head-up display throughout the mission.

The Rafale can carry payloads of over 9t on 14 hardpoints for the air force version, and 13 for the naval version. The range of weapons includes: Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles; and Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

For a strategic mission the Rafale can deliver the MBDA (formerly Aerospatiale) ASMP stand-off nuclear missile. In December 2004, the MBDA Storm Shadow / Scalp EG stand-off cruise missile was qualified on the Rafale.



In April 2007, the Rafale carried out the first firing of the Sagem AASM (armement air-sol modulaire - air-to-groung modular weapon) precision-guided bomb, which has both GPS / inertial guidance and, optionally, imaging infrared terminal guidance. Rafale have been equipped with the AASM from 2008. Rafale can carry six AASM misssiles, with each aiming to hit the target with 10m accuracy.

The Rafale has a twin gun pod and a Nexter (formerly Giat) 30mm DEFA 791B cannon, which can fire 2,500 rounds a minute. "Rafale can be armed with the precision-guided bomb."

The Rafale is equipped with laser designation pods for laser guidance of air-to-ground missiles.

The Rafale's electronic warfare system is the Spectra from Thales. Spectra incorporates solid state transmitter technology, radar warner, DAL laser warning receiver, missile warning, detection systems and jammers.

The Rafale is equipped with laser designation pods for laser guidance of air-to-ground missiles.

The Rafale is equipped with an RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar developed by Thales which has look down and shoot down capability. The radar can track up to eight targets simultaneously and provides threat identification and prioritisation.

Words from brain
waves may let scientists
read your mind...

“There are ethical concerns,” Pasley says. “Not with the current research, but with the possible extensions of it. There has to be a balance. If we are somehow able to encode someone’s thoughts instantaneously that might have great benefits for the thousands of severely disabled people who are unable to communicate right now. On the other hand, there are great concerns if this were applied to people who didn’t want that."

Words from brain waves
may let
read your mind

Scientists have found a way to decipher actual words from a person’s brain waves, a feat that sounds very much like mind-reading, a new study shows.

The research may sound like scary science fiction -- once a person’s brain waves can be read, will any thought be private? -- but the positive implications are enormous for patients who have lost the ability to speak through damage, such as stroke, or disease.

In the study, scientists worked with a group of epilepsy patients who were undergoing treatment for intractable seizures. Sensors were implanted deep in their brains in an effort to locate the source of seizures, so doctors could remove the malfunctioning tissue, according to the new report published in PLoS Biology.

Normally that process takes about a week, says the study’s lead author, Brian Pasley, a neuroscientist at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.


Words from brain
waves may let scientist
read your mind...

“During that time the patients are just sitting around in their hospital rooms,” Pasley explains. “And some of them were generous enough to participate in our experiment.”

While the patients’ brain waves were being recorded, Pasley and his colleagues read words to them. Later, the researchers ran those brain waves through a program they hoped would translate the brain's electronic signals into actual sounds. It worked. Based only on the recordings, the computer was able to pluck out the words spoken to the patients.

Previous research has been able to reconstruct what a person is looking at from brain scans.

Researchers are still a long way from actually reading people’s minds, but it may be possible one day, says Pasley, who acknowledges the technology’s potential to unlock communication for people who can’t speak -- as well as invade our most private thoughts.