New Delhi, June 5
India and the US today agreed upon an ambitious roadmap for defence industrial cooperation to fast-track tie-ups in technology to enable co-production of equipment used for air combat, intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance and undersea domain, a move coming in the wake of China’s increasingly aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.
Enabling joint production
- India-US cooperation will be for production of aircraft engines, missiles and armed drones
- Both sides discuss innovation in emerging domains such as space, cyberspace and artificial intelligence
- The US said specific proposals could provide India access to cutting-edge technology
The cooperation would be for the production of aircraft engines, aircraft-launched missiles, fighter jets, armed drones, submarine-tracking system and unmanned undersea technology. “Specific proposals could provide India access to cutting-edge technology,” the US Department of Defence said, detailing the outcome of the talks in New Delhi between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.
Both nations are in discussion on General Electric’s proposal to share technology with India for engines to power fighter jets and New Delhi’s plan to procure 30 MQ-9B armed drones from US manufacturer General Atomics. In June 2016, the US had designated India as a “Major Defence Partner”, paving the way for sharing of critical military equipment and technology. India and the US will also start negotiations on “security supply agreement” and “reciprocal supply agreement”. This will facilitate the sharing of technology between the companies of the two countries.
Rajnath and Austin discussed innovation and cooperation in emerging domains such as space, cyberspace and artificial intelligence. The India-US defence acceleration ecosystem (INDUS-X), a new initiative to advance cutting-edge technology cooperation, will be launched by the US-India Business Council on June 21.
Both sides reiterated their commitment to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. “The India-US partnership is critical for ensuring a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific region,” said Rajnath.
The US Department of Defense said Austin also met Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. During his meetings with Doval and Rajnath “the Secretary and his counterparts committed to collaborate closely in support of a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Austin ‘underscored the centrality’ of the US-India partnership to maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region. India and US are committed to strengthen operational collaboration across all military services, to support ‘India’s leading role as a security provider in the Indo-Pacific’, the US DoD said.
With Doval new opportunities were discussed to strengthen information sharing and increase cooperation in the maritime domain. India will lead the Quad Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative (IPMDA), which will provide cutting-edge domain awareness capability to countries across the Indo-Pacific region.
Earlier, on Friday night Austin while speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on "Our initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology with India lets us explore new ways to co-develop key defence platforms."
President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Modi announced in May last year the US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) to elevate and expand the strategic technology partnership and defence industrial cooperation between the two countries.
The iCET is expected to forge closer linkages between the government, academia and industry of the two countries in areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, 5G and 6G, biotech, space and semiconductors.
The delegation-level talks were preceded by a Tri-Service Guard of Honour to Secretary Austin.
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