New Delhi, November 10
India and the US today agreed to co-produce and co-develop next-generation armoured troop-carrying vehicles needed for rapid troop deployment in the rugged mountains along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
These armoured vehicles are of the “wheeled category”. Answering media queries after the 2+2 dialogue, Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane said, “The ICV (infantry combat vehicle) is part of the defence industry roadmap. The US has made an offer and we have expressed interest.” Officials said the project was aimed at having a wheeled armoured platform. This was an “8x8 wheeled protected platform” that allowed the infantry to move in war zones.
India currently operates the Russian-origin BMP, which runs on tank-type tracks and is slower in speed. The wheeled variety offers greater mobility.
Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, speaking at a separate venue, said “India and the US will co-produce an infantry combat vehicle as part of defence industrial cooperation.”
Sources said the US had proposed the General Dynamics-made Stryker that had been to several war zones. On the production of the jet engine, General Electric F414, Aramane said, “We are finalising the commercial arrangement and the legal requirements are being put in place; it will happen as scheduled and is on track.” The first engine is set to be produced in India within three years.
Meanwhile, on the MQ-9B armed drones from the US, Austin said it would be announced at the right time. “Officials in the government are doing everything possible to make sure that India gets that capability as quickly as possible,” he said. “We are stepping up US-India defence activities in multiple domains — from space to under the sea,” Austin said. The Indian Defence Ministry, in a statement, said Rajnath Singh and Llyod Austin comprehensively discussed a wide range of defence and strategic issues. “There was particular focus on enhancing defence industrial cooperation and getting the defence industries from both sides to co-develop and co-produce defence systems,” it said. The ministers explored ways and means to advance their defence technology cooperation with joint research in critical areas.
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