The F-18’s were a totally new manufactured airframe and included state-of-the-art technology (as approved for release by the Dept of State and congress).
The indians are corrupt and with US FCPA oversight practices and laws, the US bidders did not engage in any of that nonsense, because if they did and it was exposed, they would not only lose their 36b export authority to india and loss of contract, but further sanctions would follow and additional contracts (domestic) would be in jeopardy.
So, we have a situation where the US bidders had their hands tied and offered outstanding platforms, whereas the indians did the usual third-world corruption thing. No surprise. To “hide” their corruption they make baseless accusations, as the bidders are not authorized to release configuration details, so the general public has only the worlds of a corrupt government justifying their corrupt decision.
How come US companies have won the most number of defense contracts in India since 2005??? By your logic, they should have paid bribes and plenty of it.
US companies have plenty of avenues for appeal in India. They have used those avenues more than once and successfully so. If they knew of corruption, they would have raised it and everyone from the media to opposition political parties would have jumped on it.