Procurement: Sordid Sales With Strings

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May 16, 2007: India has agreed to sell Myanmar (Burma) two more elderly BN-2 Defender reconnaissance aircraft. India delivered two of these aircraft to Myanmar last year. Technically, this was illegal, as Britain, which supplied the aircraft to India three decades ago, is supposed to have a veto over subsequent transfers of the British made, twin engine, aircraft. The BN-2 Islander is a three ton light transport aircraft developed in the 1960s. It's a very popular design, and a military version, the "Defender" was developed in 1970. India bought 18 of them in the 1970s, and used them for maritime reconnaissance. The ones delivered to Myanmar are stripped of all weapons, partly to appease the British. India also said Myanmar would only use the aircraft for air-sea search and rescue, not for supports the war against the tribes in northern Myanmar.

Earlier this year. India agreed to supply Myanmar with weapons and military equipment, as well as refurbishment of Myanmars aging warplanes (mainly MiG-21s). Myanmar has been ruled by a military dictatorship for over four decades, and has become something of an international pariah. India, however, shares a 1,500 kilometer border with Myanmar. That border is in an area where India has had problems with tribal separatists for decades. So supplying heavy weapons (mortars, rifles and machine-guns), a few helicopters and some repairs and upgrades to their MiG-21s, is a way to getting Myanmar to be more cooperative along the border. Some of the tribal rebel groups have established camps just across the border in Myanmar. A more cooperative Myanmar would shut down all those camps, and more aggressively patrol the area, to prevent the Indian tribals from setting up new ones. There has been some such cooperation in the past, and the new deal is apparently meant to encourage even more.

 


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